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Consumer Crackdown: Feds warn of fake COVID tests and fake testing sites

Experts offer tips to avoid scams and stay healthy
Published: Feb. 16, 2022 at 12:38 PM CST
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InvestigateTV - As the demand for COVID testing skyrocketed during the omicron variant peak, it left consumers scrambling with long lines at testing sites and a limited supply of at-home testing kits.

The Federal Trade Commission said that short supply opened the door for potential scams, with fraudsters targeting your money and your peace of mind

“They don’t have the product they’re advertising. Very often, it’s just to scam, to separate you from your money and your personal information,” said Colleen Tressler, FTC Consumer Education Specialist.

Tressler said that while they may look it, not all COVID testing sites are legitConsumer Crackdown: Feds warn of fake COVID tests and fake testing sitesimate.

“Be a little cautious, do your homework before you spend hours standing in line. You want to get a referral, you know. Maybe talk to your doctor, your state or local health department’s website. See what’s legitimate.”

Along with the fake testing sites, the FTC warns more bogus and unauthorized at-home test kits are being sold online.

According to the US Food and Drug Administration, using these fake products increases your risk of unknowingly spreading COVID-19 and could prevent you from getting the appropriate treatment.

Dr. Geoffrey Mount Varner, a board-certified emergency medicine physician, said a fake test may present its own inherent danger.

“You’re taking a foreign body and you’re sticking it in your nostril. If it’s not an FDA-approved kit, we don’t know where that Q-tip is coming from, we don’t know whether or not that Q-tip is approved or not,” said Dr. Mount Varner.

Mount Varner said there are 40 approved COVID tests available to the public. He said taking a test not on that list may mean taking a chance with your health.

“I’ve had a few patients come in and say that they think their test is false. And so, what that means is then I’ve got to retest them,” said Mount Varner. “If they think that it’s fake don’t use it.”

To avoid getting duped by fake tests online, the FTC says:

  • Make sure it’s FDA approved
  • Compare online reviews from a wide variety of websites before you buy.
  • Pay with a credit card to dispute any charges.

If you suspect a shady seller or bogus test, contact the FTC at reportfraud.ftc.gov.

The FDA has issued an “Emergency use authorization” to many companies for at-home tests. You can find that list at fda.gov and search for Antigen diagnostic tests.

Free testing kits can be ordered at covidtests.gov or at usps.com/covidtest.