NEWARK – With demand for COVID-19 testing skyrocketing due to the Omicron variant, Acting Attorney General Andrew J. Bruck today announced that 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.
“The Murphy Administration continues to take additional actions to ensure that COVID-19 tests are available and affordable for all New Jersey residents,” said Acting Attorney General Bruck. “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.”
Other recent actions by the Murphy Administration to ensure that testing is available to everyone in New Jersey include Governor Murphy’s declaration of a Public Health Emergency to respond to the Omicron variant; a partnership with Vault Medical Services to offer at-home COVID-19 saliva testing for any person who believes they need to be tested, with or without symptoms, at no cost; and ensuring that there are ample free public testing locations available across the state.
“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.”
The warning letters sent by the Division of Consumer Affairs to a combination of pharmacies, supermarkets, and convenience stores across the state warn retailers that 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 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. 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 their 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 can now be uploaded to our complaint form. Consumers can also call 1-800-242-5846 to receive a complaint form by mail.
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The mission of the Division of Consumer Affairs, within the Department of Law and Public Safety, is to protect the public from fraud, deceit, misrepresentation and professional misconduct in the sale of goods and services in New Jersey through education, advocacy, regulation and enforcement. The Division pursues its mission through its 51 professional and occupational boards that oversee 720,000 licensees in the state, its Regulated Business section that oversees 60,000 NJ registered businesses, as well as through its Office of Consumer Protection, Bureau of Securities, Charities Registration section, Office of Weights and Measures, and Legalized Games of Chance section.