Beware of Fake or Faulty At-Home Covid-19 Tests

Fake and inaccurate Covid-19 tests are everywhere these days.

In January, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) released an official warning for people to watch out for recalled or fake home Covid-19 tests, noting that unauthorized at-home testing kits are popping up online as opportunistic scammers take advantage of the spike in demand. 

While some tests are counterfeit, others by legitimate companies have been recalled for being inaccurate. On Monday, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) issued a warning about two home tests manufactured by Empowered Diagnostics: the Empowered Diagnostics CovClear Covid-19 Rapid Antigen Test and ImmunoPass Covid-19 Neutralizing Antibody Rapid Test. Not only were they not FDA approved, even though the box makes that claim, but the agency also raised concerns about the potential for inaccurate results. 

Empowered isn’t the first test to be recalled. Last October, home test kits by diagnostics manufacturer Ellume were recalled by the FDA for false positives. Then in November, more than 200,000 Flowflex Covid antigen rapid tests by ACON Laboratories were recalled for incorrect results.

Using inaccurate or fake products isn’t just a waste of money for employees and businesses providing them, it also increases your risk of unknowingly spreading Covid-19 or preventing employees from getting appropriate treatment. There’s also legal risk. If an employee can prove they contracted Covid-19 at work, they can sue for reckless endangerment and negligence.

Here’s what the FTC suggests to make sure the tests you and your employees use are accurate:

  • Check whether the products are authorized by the FDA. The organization has a full list of approved products on its website.
  • Know whether tests are single or multiple target. Single target tests are designed to detect only an antigen or variant of Covid-19, while multiple tests are designed to detect more than one and are better able to perform as variants emerge.
  • Research the seller before you buy, especially if it’s an unfamiliar site. A good way to do this is to search for the company name plus words like “scam” and “fake.” Also, take a look at online reviews from a variety of websites.

  • Pay for tests with a credit card. That way, if a product is less than advertised, you can dispute the charge through your credit card company.

In-person testing sites can also be scams. For example, in January, fake sites in Chicago asked for customers’ credit card information or Social Security numbers, according to ABC 7 Chicago. This information is not necessary to purchase a test and a sign that the site may be phony. In Philadelphia, city officials last month warned that some pop-up tents offering Covid-19 testing that claimed to be funded by the federal government are not, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. You can have more confidence in the free at-home tests provided by the federal government, which are all required to be FDA approved.

Regardless of where employees are getting their tests, it’s a good idea to spread the word about the possible fakes. Sending your team an email with a list of FDA approved, accurate tests is a good way to start. Or you can simply purchase them yourself to ensure employees have access to real tests.

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