Scammers are on the prowl for victims amid the coronavirus pandemic, constantly trying to find new ways of conning people. The FBI has published an official warning about scammers who are now advertising fraudulent COVID-19 antibody tests.
The fake tests are yet another way con artists are attempting to capitalize on people’s fear and uncertainty from the coronavirus pandemic.
The goal is to seek personal data, like a person’s name, date of birth, Social Security number, Medicare and health insurance information. This can later be used for identity theft or medical insurance fraud.
What is an antibody test?
Antibody tests are used to determine whether someone was infected with COVID-19 in the past and has since developed antibodies, which protect the body from becoming infected with COVID-19 again.
How does the scam work?
Scammers are marketing fraudulent, unapproved, or faulty COVID-19 antibody tests. In order to purchase said test, people are giving out their personal information (names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, etc.) and personal health information, including Medicare or private health insurance information, which can be used in future medical insurance or identity theft schemes.
Know the red flags
Here are the red flags for fraudulent coronavirus antibody tests:
- Calls that demand that a hospital needs personal and financial information over the phone to help a loved on who has contracted COVID-19
- Claims of FDA approval for antibody testing that cannot be verified
- Advertisements for antibody testing through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online, or from unsolicited/unknown sources
- Marketers offering “free” COVID-19 antibody tests or providing incentives for undergoing testing
- Individuals contacting you in person, by phone, or via email to tell you the government or government officials require you to take a COVID-19 antibody test
- Practitioners offering to perform antibody tests for cash
If you are being offered an unwarranted coronavirus antibody test (without expressing interest through your doctor), the FBI said, “Say no.”
If you’ve received individual calls, texts, or emails from unknown people telling you that the government requires you to take an antibody test– remember, antibody tests are voluntary.
Before you agree to any antibody tests, the FBI recommends you talk with your doctor — they should know the tests that are FDA-approved and considered accurate. The FBI also suggests using well-known labs approved by your health insurance and never sharing personal information with anyone besides your healthcare provider.
Accuracy of antibody tests
The coronavirus antibody tests aren’t always reliable because it is not always clear when coronavirus antibodies develop in the body or whether every coronavirus patient will develop antibodies at all. But tests could become an important indicator of the virus’s spread when scientists answer some lingering questions.
Note: Even FDA-approved coronavirus antibody tests may be inaccurate up to 50 percent of the time. In May, the CDC warned healthcare providers that coronavirus antibodies are expected to be low in most of the country, so testing could create more false-positive results (meaning that the test results indicate they’ve been infected when they haven’t).