Scammers are selling fake home COVID-19 tests. Here’s how to avoid counterfeits.

With home COVID-19 tests topping Americans’ shopping lists as the Omicron variant continues to spread, scammers are trying to cash in by taking advantage of unsuspecting consumers.

Earlier this month, the Federal Trade Commission warned that cybercriminals are posing as legitimate sellers of over-the-counter products. COVID-19[female[feminine test kits. “Unauthorized home testing kits are popping up online as opportunistic scammers take advantage of increased demand,” the agency said.

Scams can take different forms. Some scammers claiming to be genuine merchants peddle unauthorized rapid tests, while others have no merchandise on hand and just want to take your money and get away.

“It’s definitely happening and it’s really hard, depending on the sophistication of the scam, for the consumer to discern that,” said Gigi Gronvall, principal investigator at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security.

Senators Ed Markey and Richard Blumenthal appeal to the FTC to investigate abusive pricing reports and other illegal practices surrounding the sale of over-the-counter COVID-19 home test kits.

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In a letter sent to FTC Chairman Lina Khan on Wednesday, lawmakers said the surge in demand for at-home virus testing makes the current environment “perfect for predatory and profiteering behavior, including selling fraudulent test kits or charging exorbitant prices for those that are available.”

Here are ways to make sure a COVID-19 test kit is legit and avoid getting scammed.

Make sure the test is cleared for use by the FDA

Federal regulators have only authorized 13 emergency home antigen tests. The FDA has also authorized three molecular tests – also known as PCR tests and widely regarded as the gold standard of COVID-19 detection — which can be purchased without a prescription and administered by a layperson at home. You can check the name of the test for sale against the list of FDA authorized kits, found here.

One of the reasons for the supply pressure is that relatively few tests are cleared by the FDA. Others were given the green light but later had their authorizations revoked, making it harder for consumers to identify the most reliable tests.

“I’ve heard of a seemingly real company approaching a state with testing without emergency use authorization in progress. It could have had European approval, or it received an EUA, and then it was revoked. So the provider actually had a piece of paper that said, ‘This test has been approved by the FD’ – but they failed to say two weeks later that it was revoked,” said Mara Aspinall, professor of diagnostics. biomedical at Arizona State University, at CBS MoneyWatch.

“There are so many tests that have the European seal of approval, and it’s not that hard to get that mark. I’m afraid these tests aren’t of good quality,” Gronvall added.

Look for warnings about fraudulent products

The FDA also maintains an online database of warning letters he sent sellers unauthorized or fraudulent COVID-19 products, including rapid tests.

In December, for example, the agency ordered DermaCare Biosciences of Delray Beach, Fla., to stop selling a product called Easy Rapid Now COVID-19 Nasal Swab Antigen Test (Colloidal Gold) “without marketing approval, clearance or FDA clearance.

Check test expiration date

Another growing scam involves vendors providing genuine – but expired – rapid COVID-19 tests. Home test kits have a short shelf life – some expire within months. Experts warn that a test could provide inaccurate results if administered after its expiry date.

Does it come with instructions?

Some manufacturers of COVID-19 tests sell batches of 25 or 40 tests directly to healthcare professionals, but not to consumers. The tests, which are intended for professional use only, are not packaged individually or in boxes of two containing instructions for use.

Buyers should check the company’s website and ensure that their test kit includes all necessary components, including a full set of instructions.

“We are seeing some companies buy boxes of 25 or 40 and then break them apart and sell them at a higher price. The pro box only has one set of instructions because it happens in a doctor’s office,” said said Aspinall.

If the box says “for business use,” that’s another red flag that could mean a seller isn’t legit.

About Thomas Hereford

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