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Learn to Spot a Fake COVID-19 Test

The spread of the Omicron COVID variant suddenly increased the demand for at-home testing kits and COVID-19 testing sites. Scammers have instantly noticed this and are tricking unsuspecting consumers through selling fake tests, setting up false testing sites, and asking for consumers’ personal data with the intent of identity theft. More on the dangers of such fraudulent schemes and how to spot them below.

How to spot a fake at-home COVID test

Fake COVID-19 Test COVID testing negative

COVID tests are among the most sought-after merchandise these days. Everyone is trying to have a few kits on hand, just in case. With this rapid rise in demand, the number of fraudulent tests had also risen dramatically. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently warned the public that several fake at-home COVID-19 tests are circulating on the market. 

Further, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recalled 200,000 unauthorized COVID-19 test kits produced by ACON Laboratories. The name of the test is “the Flowflex SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Test (Self-Testing),” and the FDA points out that this product did not receive an emergency use authorization (EUA) from the agency. To complicate matters further, the company has another test - the Flowflex COVID-19 Antigen Home Test - that did get EUA authorization.

Verywell Health points out that the ACON test in the blue box is the one that’s been recalled and the one in the white box is fine to use.

Fake COVID-19 Test testing site

In addition, over 2 million Ellume COVID-19 Home Tests, which were initially authorized but turned out to give too many false positives, were also recalled.

If you're not sure if the test you have at home is real, you can easily check it on the FDA website. Their website lists many test kits and features the brand names of each product for easy reference. You can access it here:

FDA list of authorized COVID-19 tests

You can also reference this list to avoid buying a counterfeit test. When purchasing an at-home COVID test, choose a reliable source like your local pharmacy. Avoid buying tests from street vendors, websites other than pharmacies, through email or telephone calls. There have been reports of vendors selling expired or fake tests in old boxes, as well as tests from unknown foreign sources.

“Packaging should also not be in foreign languages, and all kits should come in boxes, not as individual pieces or in plastic bags,” said Geoff Trenkle from Total Testing Solutions, a company that produces COVID-19 tests, to Healthline.

If someone is selling tests door-to-door or contacts you about COVID tests via telephone or email, this is a red flag. Scammers interested in your personal information with the goal of identity theft will often call or visit unknowing consumers and offer them free COVID tests in exchange for social security numbers and other personal data.

Learn to detect a fake COVID testing site

Fake COVID-19 Test rapid test
Fake COVID test kits are not the only scam you may encounter these days. Fraudulent rapid testing sites have popped up all across the country as well. Tents and other pop-up facilities have been caught stealing people’s credit card information and social security numbers, and many of them have claimed that they work with healthcare organizations.
When searching for a COVID testing facility, ask your doctor or local health department for a recommendation. You can also ask the testing site to say where they will be processing your sample. Every lab has a CLIA number, which you can look up online and contact if you have questions or didn’t receive your results.
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