How to Spot a Fake Home COVID Test

If you're sick and think you have the coronavirus, you may not want to go out and stand in line at testing sites. In that case, you might want to self-test. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved several test kits for home use.

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Whether you have a negative result or test positive, you'll have the convenience of knowing the outcome within an hour. But there are some fake test kits on the market. It's important to know which test are real so you'll have accurate results. You don't want a false negative or even a false positive.

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Test Must Be FDA Approved

Since the COVID-19 test can be administered by you, it's important to be careful when choosing which one you purchase.

The first step is to make sure it's FDA approved. This can be confusing since there are many declarations on websites that claim to have been given the FDA's blessing. Unfortunately, this isn't always the case.

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The only website that is the U.S. government's is covidtests.gov.

Some websites or test packages will claim to be FDA approved, but they aren't. They mislead the public by using the words "FDA Certified." You may also find tests that say "FDA Register Certificate" on the package. These tests are not approved by the FDA.

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Only the words "FDA Approved" would warrant a legitimate test during regular times, but these are not ordinary times. Because of the pandemic and the need to distribute home tests quickly, another designation is acceptable.

If "FDA Approved" is not on the test kit, then "FDA Emergency Use Authorization" (EUA) must be on the test kit. No other words are legitimate.

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Consider also​: Is There a Way to Calculate Your COVID Risk?

Real COVID-19 Test Vs. Scam

Because over-the-counter home tests are sometimes difficult to find, Walmart, CVS or other local pharmacies run out. The U.S. government is supplying four tests per household. These home COVID-19 test kits are free. Go on covidtests.gov to sign up. They will be mailed to your home.

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But beware, there are fraudulent websites online claiming to be the legitimate U.S. website. The scam is to convince you to provide your personal information. It also might be a ploy to have you hand over a credit card. It's best to be careful before you start entering your information.

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Spotting Fraudulent Test Websites

When you land on a website that claims to be federal, first examine the domain. ​The only website that is the U.S. government's is covidtests.gov.​ If it says any other combination of letters, it's not a legitimate website. There may just be one letter out of place, but it won't be the correct website.

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Check the website's spelling. Often there are misspelled words on a fraudulent website. Americans spell some words differently than other English languages. If you notice a word spelled slightly off, it's not the correct website.

Check to see if the website is secure. There should be a small lock to the left of the URL. All government websites are secure.

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If a website asks for personal information like a Social Security number or date of birth, it is not legitimate. It is probably a scam to steal your identity. It also is a fraud if it wants a credit card to cover shipping costs. The U.S. federal website does not ask for any money. It only asks for an address to mail the home test kits.

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The Federal Trade Commission is cracking down on websites that claim to sell home COVID tests.

If "FDA Approved" is not on the test kit, then "FDA Emergency Use Authorization" (EUA) must be on the test kit. No other words are legitimate.

Don’t Fall Victim to Scams

From rapid antigen tests to the reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test, it's important to select the real one. Legitimate retailers carry them but aren't always in stock. You don't want to fall victim to an online scam or, worse, a counterfeit home COVID test. Pay close attention to the packaging, including the expiration date and the website that offers it. Take advantage of the covidtests.gov website.

You can report a bogus website to the Federal Trade Commission.

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