Concerns of scams at “pop-up” COVID-19 testing sites rise

Many people have reached out to the Better Business Bureau and reporters here at 23 News about worries they are getting scammed from some COVID-19 testing sites. Now, a popular testing company is under investigation.
Published: Jan. 13, 2022 at 10:46 PM CST
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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) - Some local testing sites are closed and others may follow suit, amid the rise of COVID-19 cases and the spread of the Omicron variant. With the shortage of testing, many people have turned to what is known as “pop-up” testing sites. Now, one of the company’s providing these sites is under investigation.

The Oregon Department of Justice and Better Business Bureau (BBB) have launched an investigation into the Center for COVID Control Testing. This occurred after complaints were filed by people who paid for expedited services to receive their results sooner, yet never got them.

A spokesperson for the Illinois Attorney General’s office said they had received around 150-160 complaints regarding “pop-up” testing statewide, with many of the complaints pertaining to delays in receiving results, locations not following proper PPE requirements (masking, changing gloves, etc.), and people asking whether a site is legitimate.

“There is a major concern about “pop up” COVID testing sites, that have been frankly ripping off people,” said Rockford Better Business Bureau Director Dennis Horton. “The problem here is that they are not responding to those complaints, and currently have an F rating.”

Horton advises that anyone looking for COVID-19 testing avoid sites that are asking for pictures of a state ID, or insurance cards. The BBB is unsure what testing sites do with this information after it is provided.

“If you’ve been tested at a government site, the health department or at a medical school, or somewhere like that, you are not asked for that information,” said Horton.

Here in Rockford, the University of Illinois College of Medicine offers free and legitimate COVID-19 testing for the community. The SHIELD Test is a saliva test that was developed in Illinois and is now being used across the country.

“Anybody, even if they are not part of our community, can come to our site on Parkview, and they will be tested,” said Regional Dean at University of Illinois College of Medicine at Rockford Alex Stagnaro-Green. “We ask people to register, but many people don’t...and we have not once turned a person away.”

The SHIELD Testing is readily available for anyone in need of quick results, as they usually arrive in under 24 hours and are open Monday through Friday.

Horton recommends that if anyone is considering testing at a “pop-up” site, they should visit bbb.org to make sure the site is legitimate, or contact their local pharmacist or health care provider for recommendations.

The Illinois Attorney General’s office recommends that people first try to utilize a state-sponsored testing site or find a testing location listed on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website.

According to a consumer alert issued by the Illinois Attorney General’s office, individuals who choose to use a testing site that is not included on state-sponsored lists or recommended by a primary care provider are encouraged to first consider the following:

  • 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? https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html

If you believe you have been the victim of fraud or if you later receive a bill for testing services, you can file a complaint with the Illinois Attorney General’s office here.

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