Pop-up Covid testing sites may be rife for identity theft, experts say

Pop-up Covid testing sites may be rife for identity theft, experts say

January 8, 2022 0 By administrator

Sandra Jaramillo needed a negative Covid-19 test to return to work but was coming up empty on finding a same-day test due to overwhelming demand.

Jaramillo was experiencing headaches and a fever, and with limited options, she decided to stop at a pop-up testing site set up in the parking lot of a church near her home in San Antonio.

Under a small tent, she was told to give her driver’s license number, date of birth and email address before she was handed a swab to administer the test on herself.

That was more than a week ago, Jaramillo said, now panicked that her personal information may have been be compromised.

No one ever answers the number listed on the information sheet she was given, and the voice mailbox is full.

“At this point, it’s making me feel like I am being scammed,” Jaramillo, 32, said. “It’s been terrible. It feels like there is no choice and nowhere to turn [for a test].”

People wait in line to receive a Covid-19 test, in N.Y., on Jan. 4, 2022.Angela Weiss / AFP via Getty Images

Pop-up testing sites have cropped up on street corners, in parking lots and on shopping properties across the country, but health and legal experts say many of these are unregulated and could be rife for nefarious activities like identity theft.

In the last few weeks, legislators and attorneys general in several states including Illinois, Maryland, California, Texas and Pennsylvania have said they will be investigating and introducing regulatory legislation overseeing these operations.

Numerous illegal, unapproved and unsanitary sites have been cautioned by state officials nationwide.

Outside of St. Louis, a Covid testing site set up at a mall parking lot and was asking people to provide Social Security and passport ID numbers when registering for tests. It was shut down by police, who later urged anyone who visited the site to monitor their credit reports for fraudulent activity.

At least two sites were identified inBaltimore, where state Attorney General Brian Frosh warned residents to be aware of “illegal, unlicensed pop-up COVID-19 testing sites” that were collecting personal information that could be used for identity theft.

Unsanitary sites were reported in Chicago with workers not wearing masks or gloves. Conditions were being described as a “hellhole,” nonprofit news organization Block Club Chicago reported. People who visited said they never got their results or they came in weeks after visiting.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker described the testing spots as “fly-by-night” sites that are “an enormous problem,” before vowing to crack down on them.

“With increasing demand for Covid tests, people can expect to run across fake tests online and maybe even more of the fake testing sites we saw earlier in the pandemic,” Colleen Tressler, a consumer education specialist with the Federal Trade Commission Bureau of Consumer Protection, said. “Scammers believe in supply and demand, too, so where there’s demand for tests, scammers will fake…

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