The FBI Warns You Not to Fall for This Coronavirus-Related Scam

Con artists are using coronavirus misinformation to take advantage of people, the FBI says.

So far, the dangers of COVID-19 have been best dealt with by following health guidelines to wear a face mask, maintain social distancing, wash your hands, and avoid large indoor gatherings. But a recent rash of scam artists has brought about another potential threat unrelated to what the virus can do to your body. The FBI is warning that fraudsters may use fake coronavirus antibody tests to scam citizens by stealing their personal details, including social security numbers and health insurance information, CNN reports.

The FBI issued a public announcement that scammers are taking advantage of the current rush in demand for testing across the country, with many "marketing fraudulent and/or unapproved COVID-19 antibody tests, potentially providing false results." The agency warns that many are using collected personal data to run medical insurance and identity theft schemes.

Young man using mobile phone at home

So what's the easiest way to spot a scam off the bat? The FBI warns that any services that actively offer you a free antibody test or offer any incentives for taking one should immediately raise suspicions. This is especially true if the tests are the result of a telemarketer-style phone call, social media advertisement, or an individual text message or email claiming that testing has become mandatory in your area.

The news comes as antibody tests are spiking in popularity while areas of the country undergo major surges in coronavirus cases. However, the accuracy of testing is still unfortunately under question, with as many as 50 percent of antibody tests yielding false negatives or false positives—even when they've been approved by the FDA.

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If you're still feeling unsure about a potential antibody test, the FBI suggests using the FDA's website to cross-check the approved testing centers and providers in your area. They also advise consulting your doctor for any questions or recommendations regarding accurate testing options, and to check your medical bills and insurance explanation of benefits (EOBs) if you feel you may have accidentally fallen prey to a scammer. And for more on getting screened for coronavirus, check out Your Coronavirus Test Results Are Definitely Wrong If You Made This Mistake.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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