Officials say fake COVID tests are being sold, here’s how to spot them

Coronavirus

RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC)– Many people are still desperate for COVID-19 tests, which the Better Business Bureau (BBB) said is creating good opportunities for bad people. They say scammers are after your money and personal info with coronavirus testing scams.

“If you see a lack or a limited supply of something, guess what? That’s where the scammers love to come out,” said Leslie Blackwell with the BBB.

The United States Department of Agriculture, Food and Drug Administration and Federal Trade Commission are also raising the alarm over fake at-home COVID tests getting sold.

“Using these fake products isn’t just a waste of money, it increases your risk of unknowingly spreading COVID-19 or not getting the appropriate treatment,” the FTC wrote in a news release last week.

The FTC says consumers should follow these tips to avoid being the victim of a scam:

  • Make sure the test you’re buying is authorized by the FDA. You can check the FDA’s lists of antigen diagnostic tests and molecular diagnostic tests before you buy to find the tests authorized for home use. (EUA is “emergency use authorization.”
  • You should check out a seller before you buy, especially if you’re buying from a site you don’t know. Search online for the website, company, or seller’s name plus words like “scam,” “complaint,” or “review.”
  • Compare online reviews from a wide variety of websites. You can get a good idea about a company, product, or service from reading user reviews on various retail or shopping comparison sites. Think about the source of the review. Ask yourself: Where is this review coming from? Is it from an expert organization or individual customers?
  • Pay by credit card. If you’re charged for an order you never got, or for a product that’s not as advertised, contact your credit card company and dispute the charge.

“Consumers need to make sure they’re doing their research,” Blackwell said.

She added that not only at-home test kits are in question — pop-up testing sites are too.

“Many are legitimate, but some are not and that’s our biggest concern,” she said on Monday.

The BBB says fraudulent robocalls and text messages are directing people to websites appearing to offer in-person appointments or at-home kits after they enter payment details and other personal information.

“A lot of people who’ve filed complaints with scam tracker never received any results. Now this scammer has all their personal information to steal their identity and go to town,” Blackwell said.

If you suspect a scam seller or bogus test the FTC wants to hear about it at ReportFraud.ftc.gov and BBB.org/ScamTracker.

“Your report can help others to avoid falling victim to this con,” the BBB said.

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