Con Watch: A Continuing Pandemic of Scams — Phony Antibody Tests

Legitimate antibody tests are available, but it’s no surprise that scammers are jumping on the bandwagon and trying to sell you bogus tests that not only are worthless, but also can make you a victim of identity theft.

Rows of COVID-19 test results

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Steve Weisman is a lawyer, college professor, author, and one of the country’s leading experts in cybersecurity, identity theft, and scams. See Steve’s other Con Watch articles.

The Coronavirus pandemic continues to spread throughout much of the country with many states facing serious increases in the numbers of infected people and crowded hospital intensive care units. With no vaccine presently in sight, much attention has been focused on antibody tests for COVID-19. A proper antibody test can determine if you have developed antibodies against COVID-19. Antibodies are typically a sign that you have previously been infected with the virus. While many people assume that the presence of antibodies means that you are protected from future infections by COVID-19, researchers are still studying whether or not this is true and, if so, for how long such immunity would last. Still the attraction of a positive antibody test is easy to understand.

Legitimate antibody tests are available, but it’s no surprise that scammers are jumping on the bandwagon and trying to sell you bogus tests that not only are worthless, but can make you a victim of identity theft. The FBI recently issued a warning about these scams.

Scammers often falsely claim that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved their test. Fortunately, it’s easy to confirm with the FDA whether or not the test being offered is an approved test. The FDA lists the actual tests that they have authorized.

Phony antibody tests are offered through phone calls, emails, text messages, and social media posts. You should immediately be skeptical of any antibody test being offered through these means because you can never be sure as to who is really contacting you. Through a simple technique called “spoofing” a scammer can pose as a public health official and manipulate your caller ID to make it appear that the call is from a legitimate source. Similarly, text messages, emails, and social media posts can all be easily hacked to appear to come from a reliable source when they actually are coming from a scammer. Trust me, you can’t trust anyone.

You should be particularly wary of anyone who contacts you offering a free antibody test or even offering to compensate you for taking such a test. These offers are used to gather information that can make you a victim of identity theft.

Never provide your Medicare or other health insurance information to someone offering an antibody test unless you have absolutely confirmed that the offer is genuine. Your Medicare identification number or your health insurance policy information can be sold on the black market, which can have dire consequences when an imposter’s information becomes mixed in with your medical records.

Before taking or purchasing any kind of antibody test, you should first confirm that the test is approved by the FDA. Most importantly, consult with your primary care physician about taking such a test. You also should make sure that the laboratory doing the test is one approved by your health insurance company and confirm that they will cover the cost of such a test.

Featured image: Monika Wisniewska / Shutterstock

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Comments

  1. We here in New Orleans got one of the first COVID major outbreaks, during Mardi Gras. Worse yet, it was unknowing. Back then the huge crowds, and close face-to-face celebrating spread it like crazy. Then came the lockdown, once everyone realized what had happened. And people observed the CDC protocol – masking, going out only when necessary, keeping distance, and hand washing. Hubby and I are in our 70’s and at higher risk, so we did everything right – from gitgo. Governor Edwards was frequently on tv, and gave people facts, stats, and updated information. It took some weeks, but the curve here, DID start to flatten. And then, because some thought their ‘freedoms and civil rights’ were being taken away – chose to go without masks. Big rallies, parties, church attendances, bars…and surprise!!!! COVID infections have spiked again. Are we splitting the atom here? Mask up and stay safe. Wow, some of ya’ll really are stuck in stupid….

  2. Of course there’s THIS to worry about now on top of everything else! The Coronavirus pandemic wouldn’t be spreading (requiring mass testings) to the extent it is at all if this country could get its act together on laws requiring consistent wearing of the mask in all 50 states, NOT having COVID-19 parties to intentionally get it, and other risky gatherings. (See ‘News of the Week’ 7/17/20)

    The FBI should be all over anyone involved with phony antibody tests, prosecuting them to the fullest extent of the law. Since this is a life and death crime, I’m being the judge saying the punishment should be life in prison, or the death penalty. That’s it Steve.

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