Been overcharged for a COVID test kit? AG wants to hear from you

With demand for COVID-19 testing skyrocketing from the Omicron variant, Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck announced the Division of Consumer Affairs has sent more than 50 warning letters to businesses whose prices for COVID-19 test kits have generated complaints from New Jersey consumers — and the office wants to hear from anyone who may have been overcharged for one.

“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. “Today 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.”

The warning letters were sent to pharmacies, supermarkets and convenience stores across the state to warn retailers New Jersey’s Consumer Fraud Act protects consumers from gross and unreasonable inflation of the sale price of any product sought by consumers to respond to or protect themselves from a public health crisis, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. The letters are based on complaints from consumers and do not reflect a conclusion by the Division that any retailer has violated the law.

Additionally, consumers should be on the lookout for scams connected to the sale of COVID-19 tests.

Nationwide, individuals and entities are taking advantage of the pandemic to market fraudulent tests that have not been authorized by the FDA and may not provide accurate results.

As demand for COVID-19 testing continues, the Division urges consumers to follow the following tips:

  • 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.
  • Find where to get tested. New Jersey’s COVID-19 hub has a list of free public testing sites. Find a federally qualified health center near you, whether you have health insurance or not and regardless of your immigration status, with this search tool or on 211’s online list of community clinics. Visit covid19.nj.gov/testing for additional information on COVID-19 testing locations in New Jersey.
  • Take advantage of free testing options. New Jersey offers free, at-home COVID-19 PCR tests to every New Jerseyan by visiting learn.vaulthealth.com/nj.
  • Understand your options. As of Jan. 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. For more details about the plan recently announced by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, click here.

Consumers who believe they have been targeted by a scheme related to COVID-19, or who believe that businesses have unfairly increased prices in response to COVID-19, are encouraged to file a complaint online and report specific details. Photographs of items being sold, receipts and pricing may now be uploaded with the complaint form. Consumers may also call (800) 242-5846 to receive a complaint form by mail.

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Kevin A. Canessa Jr. is the editor of and broadcaster at The Observer, a place where he has served on and off since 2006. He is responsible for the editorial content of the newspaper and website, the production of the e-Newspaper, writing several stories per week (including the weekly editorial), conducting live broadcasts on Facebook Live, including a weekly recap of the news — and much more behind the scenes. Between 2006 and 2008, he introduced the newspaper to its first-ever blog — which included podcasts, audio and video. Originally from Jersey City, Kevin lived in Kearny until 2004, lived in Port St. Lucie. Florida, for four years until February 2016 and in March of that year, he moved back to West Hudson to return to The Observer full time. Click Here to send Kevin an email.