Covid test kits are in short supply in the U.S. and scammers are taking advantage, according to the Federal Trade Commission, which issued an alert on Tuesday about bogus kits being sold to consumers online.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is also warning consumers about a proliferation of fake or unauthorized at-home testing kits, as well as an array of dubious products that promise to treat Covid symptoms, including teas, essential oils and tinctures. You can see a few of them here.
"It's likely that the products do not do what they claim," reads a FDA statement. "The ingredients in them could cause adverse effects and could interact and potentially interfere with medications to treat many underlying medical conditions."
While hundreds of FDA-approved Covid test kits are currently available to consumers, there also hundreds of fakes, too. To avoid confusion, follow these steps before making a purchase:
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- Check that the at-home kit has FDA approval: Before buying any kit online, make sure that the test is from the FDA's approved list of vendors. Here is the list of approved rapid antigen-based tests and here is the list of molecular-based (PCR) tests. The FDA also has a searchable list of fraudulent Covid products, here.
- Research before buying: Before you buy a product from a seller, check that they're legit by searching for their name online, along with keywords like "scam," "complaint," or "review." You can also search for a company through the Better Business Bureau to see if they have good reviews or complaints.
- Get a test from your doctor: Your health-care provider can recommend or offer an approved at-home test or tell you where to find a legitimate clinic. Check out the official website of your local health department for more information on testing availability.
When buying kits, try to pay using a credit card. That way if you're charged for an order you never got, or the product is faulty, you can dispute the charge with your credit card company.
If you believe you have been the victim of a Covid fraud, immediately report it to National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline by either calling (866) 720-5721 or by writing a complaint online at justice.gov/disastercomplaintform.
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