- What Are COVID Testing Scams?
- Non-Approved COVID Tests
- Home Testing Kits Sold Door-to-Door
- Fake or Counterfeit Negative Test Results
- Being Charged for an In-Person COVID Test
- How to Protect Yourself From COVID Testing Scams
- What if You Fall for a COVID Testing Scam?
- Frequently Asked Questions
Scammers didn’t waste any time when it came to capitalizing on a pandemic, tricking people into paying for fake/non-existent vaccines, fake vaccine cards, and even fake COVID testing. Almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, and they’re still at it, stealing money off innocent people by offering fake tests.
Here’s everything you need to know about COVID-19 testing scams and how to keep yourself safe.
What Are COVID Testing Scams?
There are several different versions of COVID testing scams currently, and there are certainly more of them to come since scammers constantly try to come up with new ways to steal your money and identity.
The most common ones to look out for include the following:
- Non-approved COVID tests that are usually promoted via social media, email, unsolicited phone calls, or other places online.
- Home test kits being sold door-to-door.
- Fake or counterfeit negative test results.
- Having to pay for an in-person COVID test.
There's a lot at risk if you fall for these scams, including:
- Identity theft
- Loss of money
- Loss of possessions
- Danger to your health
Non-Approved COVID Tests
Be careful if you receive an unsolicited email, phone call, or even a direct message via social media from someone promoting COVID testing kits. There are reports of non-authorized testing kits being sold with results not guaranteed to be accurate.
What’s the Risk?
If you buy a non-FDA-approved at-home COVID test, you could get false results and ultimately be wasting your time and money. In addition, scammers could also be selling you these fraudulent tests to scam you further. For example, they could use your sensitive information to steal your identity or use your credit card details to make unauthorized purchases.
What’s even scarier is that there’s no guarantee that these fake COVID tests are safe. They haven’t been approved, and you never know what’s in them.
At-Home Tests Approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)
As of December 21, 2021, these are the brands of at-home COVID tests currently approved by the FDA.
Molecular and antigen tests (tests for an active infection):
- Audere HealthPulse
- Abbott RealTime SARS-CoV-2 assay
- binx health At-Home Nasal Swab COVID-19 Sample Collection Kit
- Color COVID-19 Self-Swab Collection Kit
- Color COVID-19 Self-Swab Collection Kit with Saline
- Color COVID-19 Self-Swab Collection Kit DTC
- Cue COVID-19 Test for Home and Over The Counter (OTC) Use
- Detect Covid-19 Test
- EmpowerDX COVID-19 Home Collection Kit DTC
- Everlywell COVID0-19 & Flu Test Home Collection Kit
- Everlywell COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit
- Everlywell COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit DTC
- GetMyDNA COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit
- Kroger Health COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit
- Kwokman Diagnostics COVID-19 Home Collection Kit
- Lucira CHECK-IT COVID-19 Test Kit
- Lucira COVID-19 All-In-One Test Kit
- OMNIgene-ORAL OM-505 and OME-505 (OMNIgene-ORAL) saliva collection devices
- ORAcollect-RNA OR-100 and ORAcollect-RNA ORE-100 saliva devices
- Pinpoint by Phosphorus COVID-19 Test Home Collection Kit DTC
- Quest Diagnostics Collection Kit for COVID-19
- RapidRona Self-Collection Kit
- SalivaDirect At-Home Collection Kit
- SalivaDirect DTC Saliva Collection Kit
- SDNA-1000 Saliva Collection Device
- WREN Laboratories COVID-19 Saliva Test Collection Kit DTC
- CareStart COVID-19 Antigen Home Test
- iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test
- BD Veritor At-Home COVID-19 Test
- SCoV-2 Ag Detect Rapid Self-Test
- BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self Test
- InteliSwab COVID-19 Rapid Test
- Celltrion DiaTrust COVID-19 Ag Home Test
- QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test
- Flowflex COVID-19 Antigen Home Test
- InteliSwab COVID-19 Rapid Test Rx
- BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card Home Test
- BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card 2 Home Test
- QuickVue At-Home COVID-19 Test
- Ellume COVID-19 Home Test
Molecular vs. Antibody Test: What's the Difference?
Molecular and antigen COVID tests are the only tests that should be used if you want to know whether you currently have COVID-19.
Home Testing Kits Sold Door-to-Door
If you ever get a knock on your door from someone offering COVID tests, don’t let them in. Even if they say they represent an organization like the Red Cross or other non-profit, it’s a scam!
What's the Risk?
The goal of these door-to-door scammers is to gain access to your house and steal your valuable items. They may show up to your house in pairs, so one of them can keep you distracted while the other takes off with your things.
In some cases, they may also be scoping out your house to commit a robbery later on. They will look for things like:
- Security systems (or lack thereof)
- What valuables are easy for them to steal
- Calendars showing your household schedules (i.e., when the house will be empty)
Fake or Counterfeit Negative Test Results
Some people sell fake negative COVID test results to those who don’t want to get a test. With more businesses requiring proof of vaccination or a negative test for entry, these COVID testing scams are becoming more and more common.
What's the Risk?
Don’t risk buying fake test results (or doctoring up your own fake version). These scams are dangerous for two reasons:
- You can be fined thousands of dollars for using fake negative test results
- The people who sold you the fake test may use your information to commit further fraud (e.g., identity theft)
While paying for fake COVID test results may seem more convenient, remember: COVID tests are completely free, with or without insurance.
Being Charged for an In-Person COVID Test
If you’re going for a regular COVID test, you should be able to get it for free, regardless of whether or not you have insurance.
Most health centers and pharmacies across the country will offer free testing. You may need to pay for rapid test results and at-home test kits, but regular COVID testing should be free.
If you’re getting your COVID test at your doctor’s office, you may need to pay for your visit, but you should not be charged for the actual test.
How to Protect Yourself From COVID Testing Scams
The best way to avoid falling for these scams is to only:
- Get tested at a health center, pharmacy, or another authorized testing site.
- Buy self-test kits from trusted pharmacies like CVS, Walgreens, etc.
- Get test results from completing a test yourself—don’t buy doctored results.
Remember, do not allow any door-to-door salespeople into your home.
If you want to buy an at-home test kit online, confirm that it’s an FDA-approved brand first before buying it. Also, look closely at the website itself, looking for signs of a scam, such as:
- Poor grammar and misspelled words
- Strange payment options (e.g., no credit card, just wire transfer or gift cards)
- No contact information
- Lack of customer reviews
- Overwhelmingly bad customer reviews
- Customer reviews that look fake
What if You Fall for a COVID Testing Scam?
If you’ve fallen for a fake COVID test scam, take the following steps to try to minimize the damage.
- Report the scam to the authorities, including the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and your local police department.
- Contact your bank if you bought a fraudulent test using your credit/debit card information (you’ll want to cancel your card and have a new one issued). Also, dispute any fraudulent transactions.
- Cancel any transactions that have yet to be processed.
- If you paid via gift card, wire transfer, or other non-standard methods, cancel the transaction—this may be impossible, but it’s worth a try.
- Take the necessary steps to prevent and recover from identity theft if you gave the scammer your sensitive data, such as your:
- Full name
- Date of birth
- Social Security number (SSN)
- Bank account details