With COVID-19 cases soaring and many testing sites overwhelmed by demand, Illinois leaders say scammers are taking advantage of residents and establishing fake pop-up testing sites.
The unauthorized testing sites may have real signs, but according to federal authorities, they can be used to take personal details, including Social Security numbers and important health information.
During a COVID-19 briefing Monday, Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the state is cracking down on what he referred to "fly-by-night" testing sites, calling them an "enormous problem."
In some cases, Pritzker says testing sites aren't even informing people of their results. Others, he said, aren't taking responsibility for how long it takes to get results back from laboratories.
"We intend to make sure that those operations are no longer doing to customers and patients what they have been doing," he said.
Pritzker said Monday he has referred the problem to the Illinois Attorney General's Office for an investigation.
Dr. Ngozi Ezike, director of the Illinois Department of Public Health, emphasized pop-up testing sites are helping fill the demand in some communities, and not all are illegitimate.
"We do want to urge some caution with some of these clinics," she said. "There unfortunately are those who are taking advantage of these crazy times to try to scam people."
If you have any doubts, Ezike says, ask questions at the testing location - specifically about what lab the site is using and when you should expect to receive the results.
Health officials say those looking to get tested can find information about legitimate testing sites on the IDPH website.
The Federal Trade Commission, which investigates consumer fraud, says such sites aren't following safety protocols, and the damage they can cause is "very real."
"Worst of all, they’re not giving people the help they need to stay healthy. In other words, these testing sites are bad news," the commission's website stated.
Fake testing sites can be reported to the FTC here.