Tell Consumer Reports If You've Seen a Product With a Bogus Coronavirus Claim

The FDA has issued warnings to several companies selling essential oils or products claimed to combat COVID-19

oil bottle coronavirus background iStock-1017829866, iStock-1146716231, iStock-1203824669

The convicted fraudster televangelist selling a “Silver Solution” that was claimed to destroy the coronavirus was certainly jarring. But what really got me was the listing on Amazon offering a basic brimmed hat with a piece of plastic to cover your face—or, as the listing put it, “Anti-COVID-19 All-Purpose Face Shield”—for a sum of $40. (At least it came with free shipping.)

The U.S. is currently gripped by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, and hucksters galore are doing whatever they can to sling bogus products touting unbelievable claims to combat the virus and the disease it causes, COVID-19. The Food and Drug Administration and the Federal Trade Commission have already targeted several companies for doing so—including that televangelist, Jim Bakker, and another who’d marketed products through the plainly named URL coronavirusdefense.com.

But the problem isn’t going away anytime soon. On Tuesday, the National Enquirer drew outrage across social media after a reporter for The New York Times published a photo on social media of the tabloid’s latest cover. It carried this claim: “Coronavirus Cures Finally Found!”

More on Coronavirus

Not so. The FDA makes it clear that, “There currently are no vaccines, pills, potions, lotions, lozenges or other prescription or over-the-counter products available to treat or cure coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).” Clearly, though, the government has its work cut out in the coming weeks and months to not only curb the spread of COVID-19 but also prevent companies from selling bogus products.

But just how widespread is the problem? How many snake-oil salesmen come out of the woodwork during a public health scare to prey on a fearful and anxious public? And for everyday essentials, how common is price gouging? I want to know.

Particularly, I’m looking for products that carry claims—as the FDA puts it—“to prevent, treat, mitigate, diagnose or cure coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).” And I want to get a sense of how often consumers are coming across common products like masks, bottled water, and toilet paper getting sold at exorbitant prices.

Have you seen such a product online or in person? Has a friend or relative? We want to hear from you. If you prefer, contact Consumer Reports securely. Otherwise, you can share your story below.


Head shot of Ryan Felton, a CR author of investigative reports and special projects

Ryan Felton

I'm an investigative journalist with an appetite to cover anything and everything. My job and goal is to dig into complicated issues that affect people's health, safety, and bottom line. I've covered everything from dangerous tires to subprime lending to corporate malfeasance. Got a tip? Drop me an email ( ryan.felton@consumer.org), or follow me on Twitter ( @ryanfelton) for my contact info on Signal.