How to avoid buying a fake COVID-19 test kit

YOU SHOULD BE WARY of purchasing COVID-19 test kits online. – Jimena Roquero/Stocksy photo

Experts are alerting consumers that scammers are trying to sell fake COVID-19 testing kits online.

They say you can protect yourself by checking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website for a list of tests the agency has approved.

They also warn against providing too much information to an online vendor as some scammers are trying to get personal data for future use in identity theft.

Experts add that some scammers are also setting up fake COVID-19 testing sites in pop-up tents or other temporary facilities.

The rapid spread of the Omicron variant has spiked demand for COVID-19 testing.

Scammers have taken notice, with some selling fake COVID-19 test kits online while others use bogus testing sites to rip off unsuspecting consumers and even gather personal data for future use in identity theft schemes.

“It’s a real problem. Not only are these tests a waste of money, but they also increase the risk of spreading the disease and users not getting proper medical treatment,” Dr. Emily Volk, president of the College of American Pathologists, told Healthline.

“With a scarcity of testing options available, consumers have become desperate, and a lot of bad actors have emerged to capitalize on this vulnerability,” said Justin Simons, the CEO and founder of certified and accredited COVID-19 testing lab Mylabsdirect. “We have been approached by a number of fly-by-night groups asking how much we would pay them to send us samples. The vast majority have absolutely no background in health care.”

Volk warned against buying test kits online unless it’s from a website operated by a trustworthy vendor, such as large pharmacies like CVS and Walgreens.

There are some relatively simple ways to protect yourself from being scammed by a fake COVID-19 test.

If you’re thinking of purchasing a COVID-19 at-home test kit online, it takes only a couple of minutes to confirm whether it’s real or fake by checking the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) website.

The FDA maintains a running list of every SARS-CoV-2 antigen diagnostic test approved under its emergency use authorization (EUA) process. The list includes several types of test kits and features product brand names for easy reference.

“Scammers often claim that the Food and Drug Administration has approved the test being offered to you,” Steven Weisman, founder of the blog, told Healthline. “Before taking or purchasing any kind of coronavirus test, you should first confirm that the test is approved by the FDA and consult with your primary care physician about taking such a test. You should buy the tests only through sources that you have confirmed are legitimate, and be very careful when ordering them online.”

Dr. Eric Cioe-Peña, the director of Global Health and an emergency physician at Staten Island University Hospital in New York, told Healthline “it is almost impossible from looking at a test to determine whether it is fraudulent or not.

“The best resource that consumers can use is utilizing the FDA website… to determine whether the products are FDA authorized and not [from a] company that has received warning letters from the FDA for producing fraudulent tests,” he said.

(Edited and reprinted from


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