The FBI said this month that scammers promote false or unproven antibody tests and sell them to people to steal Social Security numbers or health insurance information.
Antibody tests are used to determine if someone has been infected with Covid-19 in the past and has since developed antibodies, which protect the body from re-infection with Covid-19.
The US Food and Drug Administration approved some antibody tests, and all have been previously tested by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health or another government agency. But it’s not easy to make that distinction when you’re offered an antibody test over the phone.
The FBI said offering him proof is a sign that he is being scammed. Labs test patients who request them, and if marketers offer free tests or offer incentives to get one, that’s a red flag.
Other warnings include targeted ads on social media, email, or unsolicited phone calls: If you are offered a test without expressing interest through your doctor, say no, the FBI said.
And if you’ve received individual calls, text messages, or emails from unknown people telling you that the government requires an antibody test, that’s also not true. Antibody tests are voluntary.
Before accepting any antibody tests, the FBI recommends that you speak to your doctor, who must be familiar with tests approved by the FDA and deemed accurate. The FBI also suggests using well-known labs approved by your health insurance and never sharing personal information with anyone other than your healthcare provider.
This is just the latest in a series of months-long coronavirus scams. Since the pandemic began in March, scammers have called and texted people to inform them that they have been infected with the coronavirus and to link them to send personal information. Scammers also call people and tell them to give a hospital personal and financial information over the phone because someone they know is sick with coronavirus.
Antibody tests against coronavirus are not always reliable, as it is unclear when antibodies to coronavirus develop in the body or if each coronavirus patient will develop antibodies. But the tests could become an important indicator of the virus’s spread when scientists answer some lingering questions.
Even FDA approved coronavirus antibody tests can be inaccurate up to 50% of the time. In May, the CDC warned healthcare providers that coronavirus antibodies are expected to be low in most parts of the country, so the tests could lead to more false-positive results (meaning the results of the Evidence indicates that they have been infected when they have not.) and they should not be used by policy makers to decide when to reopen spaces such as offices and bedrooms.