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FTC warns to double-check COVID tests and testing sites amid scams

When the backlog increased for home kits and the lines got longer for a COVID-19 test, the FTC said scammers stepped in.
Published: Feb. 17, 2022 at 11:32 AM EST
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InvestigateTV - As the demand for COVID-19 testing skyrocketed during the peak of omicron, it left consumers scrambling with long lines at testing sites and a limited supply of at home tests. The Federal Trade Commission told our national investigative team that short supply opened the door for potential scams.

If you need a quick COVID-19 test result, you may turn to either public testing sites or at-home rapid tests, but when the backlog increased for home kits and the lines got longer for a COVID-19 test, the FTC said scammers stepped in. FTC Consumer Education Specialist Colleen Tressler warned that fraudsters are stealing your money and your peace of mind.

“They don’t have the product they’re advertising. Very often, it’s just to scam to separate you from your money and your personal information,” Tressler explained.

Tressler said that while they may look it, not all COVID-19 testing sites are legitimate.

“Be a little cautious, do your homework before you spend hours standing in line. You want to get a referral, you know. Maybe talk to your doctor, your state or local health department’s website…see what’s legitimate,” Tressler explained.

Besides fake testing sites, the FTC said more bogus and unauthorized at-home test kits are being sold online.

According to the Food and Drug Administration, using these fake products increases your risk of unknowingly spreading COVID-19 and could prevent you from getting the right treatment. Medical experts said that a fake test may present its own inherent danger.

“You’re taking a foreign body and you’re sticking it in your nostril. If it’s not an FDA approved kit, we don’t know where that Q-Tip is coming from. We don’t know whether or not that Q-Tip is approved or not,” said Dr. Geoffrey Mount Varner.

Mount Varner is a board-certified emergency medicine physician.

“I’ve had a few patients come in and say that they think their test is false and so, what that means is then I’ve got to retest them. If they think that it’s fake, don’t use it,” Mount Varner noted.

The FTC said if you’re buying a test online, make sure it’s FDA approved, compare online reviews from a wide variety of websites before you buy, and pay with a credit card to dispute any charges. If you suspect a shady seller or bogus test, contact the FTC at reportfraud.ftc.gov.