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Scammers preying on people looking for at-home COVID-19 tests

Beware of fake tests!

PHOENIX — As the coronavirus pandemic continues, private companies are providing ways for people to test themselves for the virus from the comfort of their own home.

But consumers need to beware of scams surfacing that leave people concerned they have the virus with fake tests.

“The FDA has only approved at-home sample collection and not at-home testing,” said Dr. Purnima Madhivanan, associate professor in health promotion sciences at the University of Arizona.

If you have symptoms of the virus or think you may have been exposed to someone that has it, you may be thinking about getting an at-home testing kit, but buyer beware.

“There’s a growing list of fraudulent companies that are preying on people that are afraid they might have COVID, so I suggest viewers be careful and do their homework,” she said.

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Dr. Madhivanan says It’s important to pay attention to which company you chose.

“Depending on which one has the emergency use authorization and which ones have validated tests,” she said.

The FDA has not yet approved any kind of at-home diagnostic test or at-home antibody test for the coronavirus.

It has only authorized a handful of at-home collection kits and guidance on the development of those kinds of kits.

“Most of the home collection devices are like you’re putting a swab through the lower nasal area or you are spitting into a cup,” said Dr. Madhivanan.

The way they’re done is crucial.

“If we don’t collect the sample correctly, our test results may not be accurate,” she said.

RELATED: Hundreds tested for coronavirus in Phoenix Saturday; some say testing was hard to find

Most test results come back within 48 hours, and if done properly, they should give you peace of mind.

“...collected the sample correctly, mail it in a time period that they ask you to mail it, I believe the FDA authorized tests, which are in the emergency use authorization, should be very close to accuracy in terms of hospital-collected tests,” she said.

So remember, do your research and know the limitations of the test you take before taking it. Experts recommend contacting your healthcare provider immediately if you have a positive result.

If it comes back negative and you still have symptoms or think you may have been exposed, it’s a good idea to do a second test.  

Dr. Madhivanan says most cost between $100-$150 dollars without insurance, but with a doctor’s order, they’re covered under most health insurance plans.