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Warning over price gouging and COVID tests

COVID-19 test kit
Posted at 5:42 PM, Jan 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-16 10:41:57-05

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - With high demand and low supply, at-home COVID tests have been hard to find on store shelves.

“We see the best of humanity during these kinds of times, but we also see the worst. We've seen more fraud and scams than ever before,” District Attorney Summer Stephan said.

Starting Saturday, private insurance companies will be required to cover at-home COVID-19 tests. Prior to this latest change, Stephen said there was a new trend when it comes to at-home tests.

“What we are seeing is what appears to be people reselling their kit that potentially they got for free, online for a much higher price,” she said.

That could be illegal.

A new executive order from the governor prohibits businesses from selling the tests for more than 10 percent higher the price they charged in early December. The DA co-sponsored legislation last year to make sure resellers online also do not price gouging.

“If you're not an established company, but just somebody that for the first time is online selling, then the rules are a little bit different,” she said. "You have to charge more than 50 percent than what would be a normal price in order to be in violation of the law."

Locally, one viewer reported a Santee pharmacy selling a single COVID test for nearly $40 before tax. That same test sells for roughly $10 at other major pharmacies. When Team 10 called to inquire about the tests, the woman who answered the phone said, "all the prices have been raised.”

The DA’s office and local Better Business Bureau encourage anyone to report possible price gouging, even if they are not sure.

“Just like with any other product or service, when there is scarcity and there is high demand with low products and services," Viridiana Quintana with the Better Business Bureau said. "A lot of times scammers take advantage of that.”

To report price gouging during the pandemic, residents can call the DA’s consumer hotline at 619-531-3507.

A violation of the executive order is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up to six months.