RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – Now that the federal government is providing free at-home COVID-19 tests, one CBS 17 viewer wanted to know how to tell if a link to those kits were legit or a scam.

A link that Barbara Williams found was a classic setup that looked suspicious. A Facebook post told her and others the U.S. Postal Service was providing free tests.

Williams said she was leery of something that seemed too good to be true, worrying scammers might be trying to trick her.

Her friend’s post contained a lengthy link. When you click it, it takes you to a page that looks like a real postal service website. It even has an order form for the kits, where the price is listed as $0.

As it turns out, the website is real. The best way to check its legitimacy is to look at the URL. It has a lock icon meaning it’s a secure site.

Screenshot of the USPS website for ordering free COVID-19 tests.
Screenshot of the USPS website for ordering free COVID-19 tests.

Since the postal service is going to oversee the delivery of up to four rapid tests per household, it created a separate portal on its website.

Another way to check the validity of the link is to go to the U.S. government website set up to provide information on free COVID-19 tests. If you click the button labeled “order free at-home tests,” it also takes you to the same USPS website.

At midday on Thursday, more than 80,000 people were using the two websites to order free at-home test kits.

Once you order the tests, the postal service estimates the kits will take 7-12 days to reach you. With its current staffing, the postal service couldn’t meet the demand, so it had to beef up its workforce. According to the American Postal Workers Union, more than 7,000 temporary workers have been hired and 43 centers have been set up around the country to pack and ship tests.

You also need to know that the government is prioritizing shipments to ZIP codes that have experienced high rates of COVID-19 cases and deaths. 

As a result, the first 20 percent of each day’s orders will go to areas where COVID-19 is at its worst.  

One more thing about free tests: although you are limited to four tests through this program, you can buy additional tests and your insurance will pay for them. Federal regulation said insurers must pay for up to eight tests per covered individual per month.