How to avoid fake coronavirus tests, tips from BBB

Published: Jan. 5, 2022 at 5:08 AM CST
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BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - The US Food and Drug Administration warns people of fraudulent coronavirus tests, vaccines and treatments. Since the Omicron variant, the increase of COVID-19 testing has become a concern, according to the Centers for Disease Control. Officials said scarcity often leads to potential scams for a product that doesn’t exist, compromising personally identifiable information or increasing deceptive advertising.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a warning earlier this year about potential fraud related to the antibody tests. Scammers are selling unapproved COVID-19 antibody tests, which can give inaccurate results. They are also collecting personal information like Social Security numbers and dates of birth. They may also be stealing health insurance or Medicare information.

How the scam works:

The Better Business Bureau said robocalls are sent 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 promise results in ten minutes. A credit card or a form needs to be completed with personal information to receive a test.

In some cases, the test involves an easy at-home testing kit and sometimes the tests are offered through a clinic. The person or website selling the test is short on details and aren’t willing or able to provide any information about how the test works, where it is sourced and what laboratory processes it.

Carmen Million, the President and CEO of South Central Better Business Bureau, said don’t fall for it. She said the tests are not US Food and Drug Administration approved and will not give accurate results, and requestors may never receive a test kit. Scammers will have made off with the money and personal information.

“They want to make sure that the companies that they are ordering the test from is actually a legitimate business,” said Carmen Million with the BBB. “Of course, the Better Business Bureau always recommends that you do your homework. Your best bet is to talk to your doctor first. Find out what the requirements are for this testing kit and if these testing kits actually meet FDA standards.”

How to Avoid Fake Coronavirus Tests

  • 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. If you don’t have a primary care physician, check out the Louisiana Health Department’s website 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.

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