Protecting Yourself from COVID-19 Vaccine Scams
While the recent emergency approval of COVID-19 vaccine distribution is providing hope and relief for many across the country an unfortunate, but predictable, new threat has emerged along with it. According to FBI Financial Crimes Section Chief Steven Merrill, "We’ve been concerned about fraud schemes regarding the vaccine as soon as the vaccine went from an idea to reality. The one thing that we’ve learned throughout this pandemic is that when there’s money to be made, criminals will figure out how to do it." These clever scams take many forms and pinpoint the victim’s identity as well as their wallet.
The Waitlist Scam
According to the FTC, you can’t pay to put yourself or family on a waitlist to get the COVID-19 vaccine. While states might be pushing out vaccines at different rates, no one has to pay to be on a waitlist. If you receive a call, email, or text asking for money in exchange for a vaccine or to jump the line, do not respond. For information on when you are eligible for a vaccine, instead, contact your state’s public health department.
The Notification Scam
The notification scam is a tricky one. Scammers will mimic the phone number of local health departments to ‘notify’ you for contact tracing or that your turn is up for your second vaccine shot. These calls should only be made if you have previously registered with your health department for notifications or if you’ve already been vaccinated. If you are at all suspicious, hang up, and look up the number to the claimed health department and call them back. Check out this article on how to tell the difference between a real contact tracer and a scammer.
The Co-Pay Scam
Don’t fall for the co-pay scam. These scammers will ask for an insurance co-pay in advance of the vaccine. In order to avoid this, do not pay for the vaccine upfront, instead, pay when you get the vaccine onsite or have the fee submitted through your insurance first. Most importantly to know, no one can be denied a vaccine if they are unable to cover an administration fee.
Identity Fraud and Social Media
Identity fraud through social media is also a big risk. You’ve probably seen people on social media taking selfies holding their COVID-19 vaccination record card from the CDC. This could put you at risk of identity theft since these cards can show personal information like your name, dob, patient number, insurance info, and location. Take a selfie next to the sign instead of holding up your personal information for all to see.
Protecting Yourself from Identity Theft
It’s important to stay aware and prepared for scammers to reach out to you. If you feel like you’ve been scammed, contact the FTC to report your identity theft and get started with your recovery plan.
As mentioned in our previous blog about identity theft, prevention is key, and one of the prevailing methods of prevention is shredding documents with any sensitive information. We welcome you to join us on Thursday, April 29 from 5:15pm – 7:15pm to shred your confidential paperwork for FREE with Kokomo Confidential Shredders. For more details about our shred event, how much you can bring, and what is allowed to be shred, please visit our Free Community Shredding Event page.