If you’ve recently received a COVID-19 test kit without requesting one, you’re probably a scam victim. Scammers seem to be working double-time before the COVID-19 public emergency officially ends on May 11 and free tests won’t be as readily available anymore. People across the country reported they’ve received COVID-19 tests without having ordered any, a common tactic for scammers who send the tests to people and then bill Medicare. Even if you don’t directly lose money for these unsolicited tests, they can alter your Medicare coverage and increase healthcare costs for everyone. “Fraudulent charges may affect your Medicare coverage,” warned the Federal Trade Commission in August. “Although the money doesn’t come directly out of your pocket, you may not be able to get medical equipment you need. “ The end is near: Biden will end COVID-19 emergency declarations on May 11 after more than 3 yearsReemerging fraud: How the system feds rely on to stop repeat health fraud is deeply flawedWhen do free COVID tests end?Free at-home COVID-19 tests will no longer be available for most people after May 11, when President Joe Biden says the COVID-19 public health emergency officially ends. Instead, the cost of those tests will be shared between insurers and Americans unless your insurer decides to keep coverage.Only provider-ordered lab testing will be solely covered by insurance.Can I still get free legitimate COVID-19 test kits? People can still legitimately receive free over-the-counter COVID-19 tests through May 11 either by ordering and receiving them by mail or visiting an eligible provider. After that, they’ll be harder to get. Starting May 12, Medicare won’t fully pay for over-the-counter COVID-19 tests, and private insurers will no longer be required to cover the costs of testing.  Medicaid recipients, however, will be able to receive free at-home tests through September 2024.  People who won’t receive free tests anymore may be able to tap state and local organizations. For example, the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services said residents would be able to request free, at-home COVID-19 tests and The Rockefeller Foundation will keep providing free kits to at-risk communities through June 30. COVID-19 cash cow: Cashing in on COVID: USA TODAY investigates claims against companies that profited in pandemicMassive business Those ‘free’ COVID tests you take? Labs are raking in millions in tax dollars, study saysFalse results: Luxury cars, stocks, crypto and $83 million in taxpayer dollars: Man indicted in COVID-19 testing schemeWhat should I do if I receive unsolicited COVID-19 tests? Report it immediately to the government. You can do that online with the Department of Health and Human Services or call its hotline at (800) HHS-TIPS. To protect yourself from medical identity theft, the FTC recommends you review your medical records and report errors, review your credit reports and report medical billing errors and create a personal recovery plan to regain control of your identity. If you suspect fraud, report it to the FTC. As for the tests, since you don’t know if they’re real, best to toss them and request new ones by May 11, experts say. Medora Lee is a money, markets, and personal finance reporter at USA TODAY. You can reach her at mjlee@usatoday.com and subscribe to our free Daily Money newsletter for personal finance tips and business news every Monday through Friday morning. 

Source: www.usatoday.com