PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Concerned citizens are questioning the validity of a few COVID-19 testing sites in the Portland metro area after running into some red flags from a group called Center for COVID Control.
As people across the state are scrambling for access to fast COVID-19 tests amid the latest surge, Kandance Brigleb went to a Center for COVID Control testing site on Southeast 45th and Harney — one of three in the Portland metro area. The others are in Northeast Portland and the third is in Tigard.
“I got really excited that it looked easy and free and on a busy street,” Brigleb said.
When they arrived, her family filled out a form with their personal information, photo of driver’s license and insurance info.
In addition to this, some things just didn’t seem right.
“When we brought the PCR test back, they told us to go ahead and just put them in a, like a bucket that was available to everybody. And I remember saying to the guy ‘do you mean this garbage bin?’” Brigleb explained.
Her family’s results from Center for COVID Control came back negative, but to be safe they got tested elsewhere and turned out her whole family was actually positive. One of their PCR tests was never returned.
“I think that that experience seemed a bit sketchy to us,” Brigleb said.
The Better Business Bureau says Brigleb is not alone, they’ve receive complaints just like hers throughout the U.S.
The Better Business Bureau tells KOIN 6 News the Center for COVID Control is currently on their radar. They have received one formal complaint from a consumer in the area, and one consumer from the Portland area has filed a Scam Tracker Report.
“We as BBB, every time we get a complaint, we have to notify the company. We notified them on two occasions,” Logan Hickle of the BBB said. “And when our rep called, the voicemail was very unprofessional and it just ended the call.”
According to the company’s website, the Center for COVID Control offers free same-day rapid test results at its more than 300 locations across the country.
For consumer safety, the BBB for Oregon and Washington has now joined an investigation into the Center for COVID Control that was initiated by the BBB in Chicago, where the company is headquartered.
“Either they could be collecting payment information, which could include credit card numbers, or if they aren’t, then they are strictly playing this for personal identifiable information to get that PII from the consumer,” Hickle said.
KOIN 6 News found out the Department of Justice has also opened a civil investigation for the Center for COVID Control after concerned citizens brought this to their attention.
“The day before Christmas Eve, the line was wrapped around the block, and those were people that were trying to make sure that when they spent time with people the next day that they would be safe” Brigleb said.
While experts are looking into the legitimacy of the Center for COVID Control, they say consumers should go to their primary care physicians or the local health department’s website to find the best COVID testing locations.
The Oregon Health Authority wants “all residents who are seeking testing to have confidence that the services are legitimate.” They say although fraudulent testing services are rare, testing services offered through trusted health care providers, health systems, pharmacies, and OHA-partners are “generally legitimate.”
OHA urges those with questions about a testing site’s legitimacy to email the OHA’s COVID complaint email address. Once OHA receives complaints, they are referred to the Oregon DOJ for investigation.
Furthermore, if you think you may have fallen victim to a fraud or scam or have information about a possible scam, please contact the Oregon DOJ online or call the AG’s Consumer Complaint Hotline at 877.877.9392.
Also, go to identitytheft.gov and report that information or report that possibility of stolen information. Then, as always, report it to the BBB scam tracker.