January 21, 2022

Beware of COVID-19 Test Scams

Medical Assistant with Coronavirus COVID-19 NP OP Swab Sample Test Kit, Nasal Sampling Equipment, CDC Submission Form, Reverse Transcription RT-PCR DNA Molecular Nucleic Acid Diagnostic Procedure

The US Food and Drug Administration warns people about fraudulent coronavirus tests, vaccines and treatments as the pandemic continues. According to the Centers for Disease Control, since the advent of the Omicron variant, the increase in testing for COVID-19 has become a concern. Scarcity often leads to potential scams for a product that doesn’t exist, the compromise of personally identifiable information, or the proliferation of deceptive advertisements.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) gave a warning earlier this year about possible fraud related to the antibody tests. Scammers are selling unapproved COVID-19 antibody tests, which can give inaccurate results. In doing so, they also collect personal information, such as social security numbers and dates of birth. They can also steal health insurance or Medicare information that can be used in future plans.

How the scam works

Robocalls are sent to consumers directing them to a website that looks like a clinic or medical company that offers COVID-19 testing. These tests reportedly identify whether a person has been infected with the coronavirus, even if they have recovered. Some even promise results in 10 minutes. However, in order to receive a test, a credit card or a form must be completed with personal information.

In some cases, the test includes a simple home test kit. Other times, the tests would be offered through a clinic. But in all versions, the person or website selling the test has few details. They are not willing or able to provide information about how the test works, where it comes from, and which lab processes it.

Don’t fall for it! These tests are not Approved by the US Food and Drug Administration and does not give accurate results. In fact, applicants may never receive an actual test kit. Either way, scammers will have made off with the money and personal information.

In a new turn, Newsweek reports that scammers appeared on a Florida testing site and faked tests on people standing in line as a ruse to get their personal information.

How to avoid fake coronavirus tests and related scams?

  • Do you want a test? Talk to your doctor. Contact your healthcare provider. They can help find out if the test is covered by insurance and where to find a legitimate clinic. If you don’t have a GP, check the official website of your local health department for more information about the availability of tests.
  • Research before buying. Scammers pressure people to buy or commit without giving them time to investigate further. Research before agreeing to anything. Investigate any claims the company makes. Start searching BBB.org to see if they are BBB accredited, have good reviews and if there are any complaints or scam reports linked to their company name. In addition, view the warnings on FBI, Federal Trade Commission, The Attorney General’s Office, and BBB ScamTracker.
  • Understand all options: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a detailed guide to test for COVID-19. Understand the different tests available.
  • Never share your personal information with strangers. Only make purchases and only share your personal information with people and companies you know and trust. Be wary of anyone approaching you in line; ask for identification if necessary. If you suspect that your personal information has been compromised, please report it: identitytheft.gov
  • Check claims of FDA approval. According to the FBI, “Not all COVID-19 antibody tests are approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and their efficacy has not been established.” Check the FDA website for a list of approved tests and testing companies.

Source: BBB.org.

To report a scam, go to the BBB scam tracker. To find reliable companies, go to https://www.bbb.org.

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