By Colleen Tressler
Division of Consumer and Business Education
Federal Trade Commission
The news is filled with images of long lines at in-person COVID testing sites and reports of limited supplies of at-home test kits. It’s not a surprise that, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), fake and unauthorized at-home testing kits are popping up online as opportunistic scammers take advantage of the spike in demand.
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. So, if you’re shopping online for COVID test kits and related items:
• Make sure the FDA authorized the test you’re buying. Check the FDA’s lists of antigen diagnostic tests (www.fda.gov/medical-devices/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-emergency-use-authorizations-medical-devices/in-vitro-diagnostics-euas-antigen-diagnostic-tests-sars-cov-2 ) and molecular diagnostic tests (www.fda.gov/medical-devices/coronavirus-disease-2019-covid-19-emergency-use-authorizations-medical-devices/in-vitro-diagnostics-euas-molecular-diagnostic-tests-sars-cov-2) before you buy to find the tests authorized for home use. (EUA is “emergency use authorization.”)
• 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.
• Suspect a scam seller or bogus test? We want to hear about it at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
Learn more about COVID-related frauds at ftc.gov/coronavirus/scams.