How to Make Sure Your COVID Test Isn't Fake

While free at-home COVID tests from the government should be arriving soon, you may still need to buy tests more frequently due to the surge of the Omicron variant. Just like fake KN95 masks exist, so too do fake at-home COVID tests. Here's how to ensure what you're buying is an actual (and reliable) COVID test.

How to Avoid Buying a Fake COVID Test

Scammers are preying on the high demand for COVID tests, selling bogus or expired tests, overcharging, or taking your money with no tests in return. The Federal Trade Commission warned that using fake at-home test kits is not only a waste of money, but it increases your risk of potentially spreading COVID or not getting the treatment you need if you get an inaccurate negative test result. Here's how to ensure your test is legitimate:

  • Make sure the at-home COVID test is authorized by the FDA. Here's the FDA's authorized list of antigen tests and the FDA's authorized list of molecular diagnostic tests. Choose from these brands.
  • According to CBS News, check the test's expiration date. Some scammers are selling real but expired tests, which can yield inaccurate results.
  • Before buying, make sure the tests come with detailed instructions. Some companies are buying packs of 25 or 50 tests that are meant for professional use, and breaking them up to sell for more money. So if it doesn't come with directions or says "for professional use," that's a red flag.
  • Research the seller, especially if you're buying from an unfamiliar online site. Just google the seller's name plus "scam," "complaint," or "review" to see if anything negative comes up. The FDA also has an online database of warning letters regarding fraudulent COVID-19 products you can check.
  • Read and compare reviews from a variety of websites to ensure the company and products are reputable.
  • Pay with a credit card, just in case you get charged for products that never show up, or the products aren't as advertised. You can dispute the charge with the credit card company.

If you've been unlucky enough to experience any fraud or scams when purchasing COVID tests, report it to so you can save someone else from being taken advantage of.

POPSUGAR aims to give you the most accurate and up-to-date information about the coronavirus, but details and recommendations about this pandemic may have changed since publication. For the latest information on COVID-19, please check out resources from the WHO, the CDC, and local public health departments.