BBB warns consumers to be wary of pop-up COVID testing sites

Published: Jan. 31, 2022 at 6:33 PM EST
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CUYAHOGA COUNTY, Ohio (WOIO) - These past few months, it has not been easy to get your hands on a COVID-19 test, store shelves are empty, and getting an appointment at your local pharmacy or doctor’s office has been next to impossible.

Our partners at the Cuyahoga County Scam Squad have a warning for consumers about pop-up COVID testing sites. They tell 19 News; a local testing site has now shut down and is being investigated in multiple states.

The company is called Center for COVID Control, and they’re based in Illinois, but they had been operating four testing sites in our area – three in the Cleveland area and one in Akron. 19 News spoke with a woman who went to one of those testing sites and, after weeks of waiting, never received her results.

Barbara Bachtell was desperate to get a COVID test before Christmas. The Cleveland Heights woman was traveling for the holidays and wanted to make sure she was safe.

“I had checked every other place that I could possibly, you know, local drugstores, and nobody was nobody had openings, and nobody was selling test kits,” Bachtell said. “We all know how impossible that was.”

Then she saw an ad for a pop-up COVID testing site on social media. So, she drove to the Parma location.

“I waited in a car line for about two hours,” recalled Bachtell. “A staff person came to the door in my car and handed me in a little plastic bag with a testing swab, no instructions, and I asked her at that point, whether these were PCR or rapid tests, and she said, ‘Oh, we don’t do PCR tests here.’”

Bachtell says the company’s ad claimed they were offering free PCR and rapid COVID test.

“I was really surprised it was a little trailer set up in a strip mall parking lot,” Bachtell said.

The registration card has a QR code on it, but since Bachtell didn’t have a smartphone, she couldn’t even register, so she ended up just driving home.

“When I came back from visiting family, I actually had some COVID symptoms,” she said. “So, I thought, okay, I have this test I’ll, I’ll just use that. They directed me to do the swab, you know, again, without instructions and then deposit my bag in one of two big cardboard boxes.”

The company promised she’d have the results within three hours.

“Then the three hours stretch to three days, and then three weeks,” Bachtell said.

She told 19 News she is worried because the company has her personal information.

“That was a huge concern to me too because when I had to register online, I had to give my insurance information,” Bachtell said. “I had to upload a copy of my driver’s license, and after I didn’t get my test results, I really was suspicious.”

Ericka Dilworth with the Cleveland Better Business Bureau says the company currently has an f rating on their site for failing to respond to 11 complaints filed against them. The center has now closed all its testing sites and is being sued in one state and investigated by three others.

“This company did have the proper licensing and so, you know, it’s yet to be determined whether they were, you know, intentionally trying to scam, or they just didn’t have proper business practices in mind,” said Dilworth.

The BBB says if you did go to a site like this, check with your financial institutions to make sure you don’t have any suspicious activity on your account.

The best advice – try to avoid these pop-up testing sites, check with your doctor first, and if you can’t get a test that way, check the CDC’s website for approved testing sites.

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