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Oregon AG warns of COVID-19 test scam

Oregon AG warns of COVID-19 test scam

The Oregon Department of Justice opened an investigation this week into a company called The Center for Covid Control, which was accused of operating suspected COVID-19 testing sites.

The company is under investigation for possible violations of the Illegal Commercial Practices Act.

As the demand for testing grows and the ommicron variant grows, Kristina Edmunson, spokesperson for the Oregon Office of the Attorney General, said it’s important for Oregonians to keep an eye out for COVID testing scams.

“We’ve been getting more and more complaints from consumers about only suspicious testing centers and sites popping up statewide,” Edmunson said.

More than 50 people lined up for a COVID-19 test on January 6, 2022 at the Oregon Convention Center testing site, operated by Curative. An employee told the people in line that the waiting time was 45-60 minutes. Accessing tests has become an increasing challenge.

Kristyna Wentz-Graff / OPB

She said to be on the lookout for testing sites that charge cash fees, ask for sensitive personal or financial information, or websites without logos or contact information.

“One of the most important things we really encourage people to do is ask questions about the lab running the test,” Edmunson said.

Edmunson said a great way to avoid scams is to go to testing sites affiliated with or recommended by a trusted organization such as Oregon Health Authority.

“We really want to hear from Oregonians who think they see suspicious test sites or have information for us,” she said. “We definitely want to hear from people by visiting our website to file a consumer complaint or by calling our Attorney General’s consumer hotline.”

If you have information about or believe you have been scammed by a COVID-19 testing site, or would like to report the price of COVID-19 home tests sold at exorbitant prices, file a complaint with the Oregon Department of Justice at www.OregonConsumer.Gov or call the Attorney General’s consumer hotline at 1-877-877-9392.

If you have information about fraud related to a healthcare provider, please make a complaint to: OHA’s Fraud Hotline at 1-888-FRAUD01 (1-888-372-8301) or online.

Edmunson added that some individuals were selling tests at high prices on online marketplaces such as Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist.

“We see people selling them for $30, $40, $50 for a test,” she said. “So we want people to be really aware of that. And I know there are quite a few margins in some of the individual tests that individuals are selling online.”

While individual sale of the tests at marked prices isn’t illegal, Edmonson said, it’s still something to avoid. Any companies or test sites that sell tests at high rates must be reported.

The attorney general’s office said the average price for a package of two home COVID-19 tests should be around $20. As of Saturday, private insurers must cover the cost of eight home tests per person per month.

The Food and Drug Administration recommends making sure the agency has: authorized the test you buy and search online for the name of the website, company, or seller plus words like “scam” or “complaint.” The FDA advises shoppers to compare online reviews from different websites and make sure they’re paying by credit card — not a money order, prepaid card, or other form of payment that can’t be tracked or disputed.

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Anna Wintour

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