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The US Food and Drug Administration is warning people of fraudulent coronavirus tests, vaccines, and treatments as the pandemic continues. According to the Centers for Disease Control, since the arrival of the Omicron variant, the increase of 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 increase of deceptive advertising.
How the scam works
Robocalls are sent out to consumers directing them to a website that looks like a clinic or medical supply company offering COVID-19 tests. These tests allegedly identify if a person has been infected with coronavirus – even if they’ve recovered. Some even promise results in 10 minutes. However, to receive a test, a credit card or a form needs to be completed with personal information.
In some cases, the test involves an easy at-home testing kit. Other times, the tests are allegedly offered through a clinic. But in all versions, the person or website selling the test is short on details. They are not willing or able to provide any information about how the test works, where it is sourced, and what laboratory processes it.
These tests are not US Food and Drug Administration approved and will not give accurate results. In fact, requestors may never even receive an actual test kit. Either way, scammers will have made off with the money and personal information.
How people can avoid fake coronavirus tests and related scams
- Want a test? Talk to your doctor. Reach out to your healthcare provider. They can help figure out if the test will be covered by insurance and where to find a legitimate clinic or testing site. If you don’t have a primary care physician, check out the official website of your local health department for more information on testing availability.
- Research before buying. Scammers put pressure on people to buy or commit without giving them time to do further research. Before agreeing to anything, investigate first. Research any claims the company makes. Start with searching BBB.org to see they are BBB Accredited, have good reviews, and if there are complaints or scam reports associated with their business name. In addition, review the warnings on FBI, Federal Trade Commission, Attorney General’s office, and BBB ScamTracker.
- Understand all options: The Center for Disease Control and Prevention has a detailed guide to testing for COVID-19. Understand the different tests available.
- Never share your personal information with strangers. Only make purchases and share your personal information with people and companies you know and trust. Be wary of anyone approaching you in line; ask for credentials if necessary. If you suspect your personal information has been compromised, report it to identitytheft.gov
- Check claims of FDA approval. Per the FBI, “Not all COVID-19 antibody tests have been approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and their efficacy has not been determined.” Check the FDA website for a list of approved tests and testing companies.
For More Information
BBB has additional tips for avoiding scams on BBB.org/spotascam and the BBB news feed.
If you’ve been the victim of a scam, please report it on the BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others to stay alert and avoid similar scams.
BBB is a nonprofit, business-supported organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. BBB services to consumers are free. BBB provides objective advice, BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.3 million companies, 11,000 charity reviews, dispute resolution services, alerts, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. Visit bbb.org for more information.