With new opportunities often comes new scams that target your pocketbook. The introduction of COVID-19 vaccines to our world is no exception to this. In just a few months, scammers have found ways to try and lure those earnestly searching to get a vaccine. Want to know how to protect yourself from COVID-19 vaccine scams? The best thing to do is stay alert.
1. “Pay to get early access to the vaccine.”
Say that you’re having trouble getting a vaccine appointment. You receive an email or text saying that if you pay a little money, you can get earlier access to the vaccine. This isn’t true. The vaccine is free, and there is no early access by paying money for one.
2. “Here’s some vaccine information….but tell us your Social Security number first.”
Be wary if someone contacts you and says that they have vaccine information but they first want your Social Security number, bank account number, or credit card information.
3. “Get your name on the vaccine list by paying some money.”
Another vaccine scam that federal authorities have encountered is offers to get your name on a vaccine list by paying some money first. The COVID-19 vaccine is free.
4. “Get the vaccine in the convenience of your home. We’ll ship it to you.”
Imagine how easy it would be if you could get the COVID-19 vaccine without ever leaving your living room sofa. Unfortunately, if someone contacts you and says they can sell or ship doses to you if you pay a certain amount of money, it’s a vaccine scam. There are some people who have gotten the vaccine at their home, but this is usually due to certain health problems, and health workers come to the home to administer the vaccine.
5. “Respond NOW to get vaccine access.”
Scammers will play upon your fear by saying you need to act now to get a vaccine. If you see a message on social media or elsewhere that says you must act immediately to get the COVID-19 vaccine, remain wary as it is likely a vaccine scam. Although it’s true that scheduling a vaccine appointment may require swift action in some areas of the country, the local venues that offer the vaccine will not send out fear-inducing messages to prompt you to get it.
6. “We’re from the CDC/your health plan….we want you to sign up right now for the vaccine.”
No one from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or your health plan will call you to offer to get your name on a vaccine list—and they definitely would not ask for personal or payment information.
What to Do If You Are Approached by Vaccine Scams
Now that you know the types of COVID-19 vaccine scams to avoid, what should you do if you encounter a fraudulent vaccine message? Here are a few tips:
· Contact the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.FTC.gov.
· Let the FBI know. You can contact them at 1-800-CALL-FBI or ib3.gov.
· Call the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Inspector General hotline at 1-800-HHS-TIPS or tips.hhs.gov.
· Let friends or family know about any vaccine scams you encounter. This can help spread the word so others are not vulnerable to these scams.
· Hang up the phone if someone calls you with a vaccine offer that sounds too good to be true. It probably is just another one of these vaccine scams.