Building a Digital Defense Against Fake COVID-19 Antibody Testing Scams

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Welcome to the Oregon FBI’s Tech Tuesday segment. This week: fraud related to COVID-19 antibody testing.  

Scammers are marketing fraudulent or unapproved COVID-19 antibody tests, potentially leading consumers to receive false results. In addition, fraudsters are trying to gain access to victims’ personal information, including names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers. They are also seeking personal health data, including Medicare and private health insurance information, which can be used in future insurance or identity theft schemes.

Researchers are trying to develop testing methods that can quickly and easily test large numbers of people for COVID-19 antibodies. However, the FDA has not approved all COVID-19 antibody tests nor has it determined the efficacy of all tests. 

Here are some indicators of fraudulent activity:

  • Claims of FDA approval for antibody testing that you can’t verify
  • Ads for antibody testing through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online, or from unsolicited or unknown sources
  • Marketers offering “free” COVID-19 antibody tests or providers offering incentives – including cash – if you undergo testing
  • Individuals contacting you in person or by phone or email to tell you the government or government officials require you to take a COVID-19 antibody test

Here’s what you can do to protect yourself:

  • Check the FDA’s website (fda.gov) for an updated list of approved antibody tests and testing companies
  • Consult your primary care physician before undergoing any at-home antibody tests
  • Use a known laboratory approved by your health insurance company to provide the antibody testing
  • Don’t share your personal or health information with anyone other than known and trusted medical professionals
  • Check your medical bills and the “explanation of benefits” (EOBs) that your insurance company sends you for any suspicious claims and promptly report any errors to your insurance provider
  • Follow guidance and recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other trusted medical professionals

If you believe you have been the victim of a COVID-19 fraud, report it to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3.gov) at www.IC3.gov or call your local FBI office.

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