TRENTON – While the winter wave of COVID-19 continues, people are having trouble finding a place to get tested quickly. They try to buy a home test in a store or online and then get sticker shock when they see how expensive it is.
Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck warned that some businesses are inflating their prices of these important items. He announced that the Division of Consumer Affairs has sent more than 50 warning letters to New Jersey pharmacies, supermarkets, and convenience stores warning that unreasonable inflation could violate the Consumer Fraud Act. Complaints from customers caused the letters to be sent, but there have not been any legal charges as of yet.
“The Murphy Administration continues to take additional actions to ensure that COVID-19 tests are available and affordable for all New Jersey residents,” Bruck said. “We are informing retailers if consumers are complaining about their prices and making sure they understand that we will not hesitate to take action if their sales practices violate our laws.”
Free at-home saliva tests are available for residents, officials said. You have to visit learn.vaulthealth.com/nj
A quick search online for the purpose of this article found a kit sold for $24 at Walgreen’s web site and $30 or more at web sites that have unfamiliar and slightly suspicious names.
Additionally, fraudulent tests that have not been authorized by the FDA are also being sold, officials warned. Make sure you are buying a brand that is known to have accurate results.
Tips To Avoid Fraud
The following advice was given to avoid scams:
Do some research. Only make purchases and share your personal information with people and companies you know and trust.
Verify claims. Check the FDA’s website for a list of authorized antigen diagnostic as well as a list of authorized molecular diagnostic tests. Avoid buying tests that have not received authorization and may not yield accurate results.
Visit covid19.nj.gov/testing for information on COVID-19 testing locations.
Take advantage of free testing options. New Jersey offers free, at-home COVID-19 PCR tests to every New Jerseyan: learn.vaulthealth.com/nj.
Understand your options. As of January 15, 2022 insurance companies will be required to cover the costs of a certain number of at home COVID-19 tests for each covered individual under a health plan.
If you think you’ve been targeted by some kind of fraud, be sure to photograph items being sold, receipts, and pricing. Complaints can be filled out online at njconsumeraffairs.gov/pages/file-a-complaint-old.aspx or you can call 1-800-242-5846 to receive a complaint form by mail.
“Unscrupulous businesses and individuals looking to make a quick buck should know that the Division stands ready to take action to protect consumers,” said Sean P. Neafsey, Acting Director of the Division of Consumer Affairs. “We also want consumers to learn more about potential COVID-19 testing scams and how to avoid them. We ask that consumers report to us any unreasonable price increases as well as any other issues associated with suspicious COVID-19 testing.”