- Demand for at-home COVID tests has surged as new US virus cases rise, fueled by Omicron and Delta strains.
- According to a Federal Trade Commission alert published last week, scammers are trying to take advantage by selling fake tests online.
- The agency said consumers can protect themselves by taking a few simple steps.
New covid cases rising rapidly and rapid at-home testing high demand,
But consumers scrambling to buy tests online — especially as brick-and-mortar retailers sell or have limited supplies — can be tricked into buying counterfeit or unauthorized test kits.
Demand for test kits could increase when the Biden administration announced that health insurers would be required to cover costs for home tests starting Saturday.
According to a Federal Trade Commission, “using these counterfeit products is not only a waste of money, it also increases the risk of unintentionally spreading COVID-19 or not receiving proper treatment.” Warning published on 4 January
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New daily cases in the U.S. topped 1 million for the first time during the pandemic last week, according to data from Johns Hopkins University, with caseloads swelled by highly infectious omicron and delta virus variants. Average new daily cases are five times higher than a month ago, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention statistics,
Rising infections coincide with rising incidents of fraud against consumers during the pandemic, with online shopping accounting for the largest share of scams Reported to the FTC.
According to the FTC, here are ways for consumers to make sure they’re not buying unauthorized, fraudulent tests from online sellers.
- Check List: The Food and Drug Administration has issued “emergency use authorizations” for home tests to several companies. Consumers should consult the list of tests – antigen diagnostic test And molecular clinical trial – Approved for home use before purchase. (Some deliver results at home, while others require consumers to send their test sample for analysis.) The FDA also publishes one. List of fraudulent covid products including testing.
- do your research: Research a vendor before buying a test kit, especially if it’s from a site you don’t know. Search online for the company or seller and words such as “scam,” “complaint” or “review.” You can compare online reviews on retail or shopping comparison sites to get a good understanding of a company, product or service.
- pay with credit card: consumers may be able to dispute an allegation With a credit card company, if the fee is for an order that was never received or for a product that is not as advertised.
Americans may soon be able to get a free home test or get fully reimbursed for purchases.
Starting Saturday, private health insurers will be required to cover eight home COVID-19 tests per month for people on their plans. Americans can either buy home kits for free under their insurance plan or collect receipts for tests from insurers to be reimbursed. (Reimbursement does not apply to tests purchased before January 15.)
In December, the White House also announced an initiative to distribute 500 million rapid at-home test kits, which Americans can order for free from a website and will be delivered by mail. The website is expected to be launched later this month.