Beware fake COVID tests online, FTC warns


In this image provided by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, this March 24, 2020, photo, shows unapproved COVID-19 tests that were seized on March 22, 2020 from the DHL Express Consignment Facility at JFK Airport in the Queens borough of New York. Federal officials say the COVID-19 outbreak has unleashed a wave of fraud. An arm of the Department of Homeland Security, Homeland Security Investigations, has opened more than 300 cases in recent weeks that include counterfeit products and medicines as well as fake tests for the virus. (U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement via AP)

WASHINGTON (WTEN) — On Tuesday, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warned consumers about buying phony COVID tests online. The agency sent out a few guidelines on avoiding the scam, preventing waste of money and potential misdiagnosis from fraudulent or fault testing kits.

In 2021, the Food and Drug Administration alerted Americans to to fake and unauthorized at-home test kits sold online as long lines formed at COVID sites ahead of a holiday spike in demand. Limited supply lead to opportunistic scammers, and the risk of spreading untreated COVID because of a bogus test. If you’re shopping online for a test, keep these tips in mind:

  • Make sure the test you’re buying is authorized by the FDA
  • Check the FDA’s lists of approved antigen and molecular diagnostic tests to find an authorized at-home kit
  • Vet vendors by searching online for combinations of the website, company, digital storefront, or seller’s username with words like “scam,” “complaint,” or “review”
  • Compare online reviews from distinct sources–including experts, organizations, and inviduals–across different websites
  • Pay by credit card so you can dispute a bogus charge
  • Report scam sellers or fake tests to the FTC

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