Fake COVID testing sites popping up across Chicago area, Better Business Bureau warns

Governor directs IL AG to investigate 'fly-by-night' operations

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Wednesday, January 12, 2022
COVID Scam Alert: Governor Pritzker, Better Business Bureau warn of fake pop-up testing sites
Beware of fake COVID-testing sites. You should not be charged or asked for personal information like your social security number, said the Better Business Bureau.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- A new warning to be careful about where you get tested for COVID-19.

Similar to Halloween stores, they have popped up everywhere. COVID testing sites can be found inside a convenience store, an empty store front or an old gas station parking lot.

While many people have used the pop-up sites with success, others have not, including David Hellman's wife.

"As soon as she got there they said it will be 70 dollars, knowing that was inappropriate and a sign it was a bogus pop up she left," Hillman.

Charging money, not returning test results, unmasked employees or asking for driver's licenses or socials security numbers are situations the Better Business Bureau has been hearing about from consumers.

"If someone is asking for personal information, credit card information or asking you to pay that might be a tip off to the rip off," said Steve Bernas, Better Business Bureau of Chicago & Northern IL.

On Monday, Governor JB Pritzker called some of the sites "fly-by-night" operations. He has directed the Illinois Attorney General's office to investigate.

RELATED: Pritzker asks hospitals to postpone surgeries as Illinois braces for huge influx of COVID patients

"We intend to make sure those operations are no longer doing to customers and patients what they have been doing."

The governor is urging people to use the free community-based testing sites approved by the Illinois Department of Public Health. The list can be found on the IDPH website.

But, for many Illinois residents the pop-up sites are more convenient and closer to home. The Better Business Bureau and Chicago Department of Public Health advises people to ask questions before getting tested at a pop site..

"I would ask the question are these tests FDA authorized and which laboratory are you sending test results of you get a sense they can't answer that would be an obvious red flag," said Allison Arwady, CDPH Commissioner.

Most testing sites are free and other than your name and simple information about yourself, a way to contact you for a test result is about all they need.

The Illinois Attorney General's office said it's been looking into potential scammers and its encouraging people to file a complaint if they find a bogus testing site.

The Illinois Attorney General's Office recommends asking people to consider the following questions when using a non-state sponsored testing site:

-What tests does the site administer?

-Who analyzes the results?

-What laboratory does the site use? Visit https://www.cdc.gov/clia/LabSearch.html to determine whether the lab being used is CLIA certified.

-When will test results be communicated to you, and how/from whom will you receive that communication?

-Who can you call with questions or concerns about results?

-What type of personal information will the site ask you to provide?

-Does the site charge any out-of-pocket fee?

-Does the site appear to observe the CDC's recommendations to protect against COVID-19? For instance, do workers maintain a distance of six feet between people and wear masks indoors in areas of substantial or high transmission?

Residents who believe they have been victims of fraud can file a complaint with the attorney general's office.