Stay Vigilant to COVID-19 Testing Kit Scams

COVID-19, COVID-19 test kits

Have you received any recent unwanted or unsolicited offers for COVID-19 test kits? If so, beware – it’s a scam. Even though Medicare stopped coverage for these over-the-counter tests in May 2023, fraudsters are still targeting beneficiaries via the mail, text messages, in-person, over the phone and online with offers for “free” COVID-19 test kits in exchange for their Medicare number. They then bill Medicare large amounts for these tests and sometimes bill multiple times for the same test.

Some scammers buy stolen Medicare numbers online and then bill Medicare for COVID-19 tests and other items that people don’t need and their doctor never ordered. Being targeted once can mean a person is vulnerable to future scams. A stolen Medicare number can be used repeatedly to get payment for all kinds of things or sold to other fraudsters. If a fraudster has someone’s Medicare number, s/he can bill Medicare for procedures, tests, drugs, services, and durable medical equipment. These stolen Medicare numbers are more valuable than credit cards or Social Security numbers on the “dark web.”

Tips To Avoid Fraud

  • Beware of offers for “free” COVID-19 test kits in exchange for your personal financial information or Medicare number. This is a scam. As of May 2023, Medicare no longer covers these over-the-counter tests. Medicare does, however, continue to cover tests provided in a clinic, doctor’s office, or other health care setting and processed by a laboratory. Some private Medicare Advantage plans may continue paying for the at-home tests.
  • Review your quarterly Medicare Summary Notices (MSNs) to make sure all the items and services billed are ones you received.
  • Be cautious about any unsolicited requests for your personal, financial or medical identity and information. Medicare will not call or email you, and will not contact you to offer products, services or benefits in exchange for your Medicare number.
  • Report any suspected fraud to our California Senior Medicare Patrol at 1-855-613-7080. If you’re outside of California, find your state’s SMP at:
  • Read and share our COVID-19 Test Kit Fraud Alert – available in English, Spanish, Chinese and Tagalog.
  • Review and share the national SMP Consumer Alert: COVID-19.

If You Receive Unsolicited COVID-19 Test Kits

  • Write down any information on the sender of the kits, such as the name, address, company name and how many tests were sent.
  • Contact Medicare at 1-800-633-4227 to report the fraud and your compromised Medicare number. Medicare will send you a new card with a new Medicare number. You should receive it within two weeks.
  • Report it to our California Senior Medicare Patrol at 1-855-613-7080 as well as the Federal Trade Commission. If you’re outside of California, report it to your state’s SMP at:

Karen Joy Fletcher

Our blogger Karen Joy Fletcher is CHA’s Communications Director. With a Masters in Public Health from UC Berkeley, she is the online “public face” of the organization, provides technical expertise, writing and research on Medicare and other health care issues. She is responsible for digital content creation, management of CHA’s editorial calendar, and managing all aspects of CHA’s social media presence. She loves being a “communicator” and enjoys networking and collaborating with the passionate people and agencies in the health advocacy field. See her current articles.