New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal and the Division of Consumer Affairs warn consumers to beware of false or misleading claims in the sale or administration of COVID-19 tests and COVID-19 antibody tests, and other deceptive practices related to testing.
“As public access to COVID-19 and COVID-19 antibody testing increases, so do opportunities for unscrupulous individuals to make money by exploiting people’s confusion and fears,” Grewal said. “We’re urging consumers to do their homework, understand the types of tests being marketed, and recognize what those tests can and cannot do, so they don’t fall victim to false promises and outright scams.”
Antibody testing differs from diagnostic testing in that antibody testing is intended to determine if you possess antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, which indicates past exposure to the virus. Diagnostic testing is intended to determine if you currently have the disease.
Last week, Consumer Affairs sent cease-and-desist letters to a Morris County health club and a Passaic County dentist warning them against making false or misleading claims in the sale of antibody, or “serological,” tests for COVID-19, the state said.
The warning letter said Consumer Affairs received information that the club made advertising misrepresentations about antibody testing that it’s making available to its members.
“The letter noted that the health club’s advertising stated that serological tests can determine `if someone has already contracted the virus and, thus, has developed the antibodies to prevent contracting it again,’” the statement said.
But, it said, that appears to be misleading “because a person may have contracted the virus but not yet developed antibodies that would result in a positive antibody test, and because it has not been established whether the presence of COVID-19 antibodies conveys immunity, and, if so, for how long.”
The state said: “Misinformation of this nature has the potential to provide false security to individuals and contribute, in the aggregate, to widespread public harm, and also violates New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act.”The state also warned consumers to watch out for “outright scams” related to testing.
“Nationwide, individuals and entities are taking advantage of the burgeoning testing market by selling tests that haven’t been approved by the FDA and may not provide accurate results; going door-to-door and performing fake tests for money; and by purporting to offer free virus test kits in an effort to collect consumers’ personal and health insurance information,” it said.