How to avoid buying a fake COVID-19 home test

Fakes test kits popping up online, FDA says

SAN ANTONIO – As COVID-19 testing sites see big demand and home test kits are challenging to find in stores, federal authorities are warning people to look out for fake tests popping up online.

Diana Cardoza and her son went to the Alamo Colleges testing site north of downtown. She couldn’t find a home test.

“They’re impossible to find,” she said. “I’ve been going to H-E-B, Walgreens. They are gone.”

It’s a frustrating scavenger hunt for people trying to find convenient home test kits.

The Federal Trade Commission issued cautions that, according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, “fake and unauthorized at-home testing kits are popping up online.”

Sneaky robocallers are also trying to prey on people desperate to find home tests, according to the Better Business Bureau.

“They try to achieve some sort of buy-in, (such as) there’s been an indication that your neighborhood might have several positive tests, so we recommend you go to this website,” said Jason Meza, regional director of the BBB.

The problem is the site is fraudulent. The con takes sensitive information and money, but the test never arrives.

Mike Moreno said he needs frequent testing due to his job. He’s looked in stores and online for home tests.

“It’s just hard,” he said. “You’ve got to know if it’s FDA-approved, CDC-approved, and you just don’t know for sure.”

So how do you know, and how can you avoid buying a fake test?

The FDA lists the home test kits it has authorized for emergency use on its website. They include rapid antigen tests and molecular tests that need to be sent to a lab. You can find those here:

Antigen diagnostic tests

Molecular diagnostic tests

Next, the FTC suggests checking out the seller or online business by comparing reviews and putting the name of the company and the word “scam” or “complaint” in the search bar.

Finally, the FTC says if you pay by credit card, it’s easier to dispute the charge if there is a problem.


What to know about ‘fake’ COVID-19 testing sites in San Antonio

About the Authors

Marilyn Moritz is an award-winning journalist dedicated to digging up information that can make people’s lives a little bit better. As KSAT’S 12 On Your Side Consumer reporter, she focuses on exposing scams and dangerous products and helping people save money.

Luis Cienfuegos is a photographer at KSAT 12.

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