Scammers take a stab at preying on public health fears with COVID-19 schemes.
FBI Warns of COVID-19 Vaccine Frauds
The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) issued a warning in December to Americans that scammers are using the public’s interest in COVID-19 vaccines to obtain personally identifiable information (PII) and money through a number of schemes.
In December, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized both the Pfizer COVID-19 and Moderna COVID-19 vaccines for emergency use, and those vaccines, along with Operation Warp Speed distribution plans, have been in the news daily.
So, of course, scammers have stepped up to cash in on Americans’ COVID-19 fears and concerns with fake advertisements for vaccines, bogus messages asking for personal information in exchange for a vaccine and offers for early access to a vaccine for a deposit or fee. Fortunately, however you don’t have to get ripped off by these vaccine opportunists.
Click or swipe for 4 signs of potential COVID-19 vaccine fraud and how to avoid getting duped.
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1. Early access offers
The U.S. government plans through Operation Warp Speed to distribute 300 million doses of the COVID-19 vaccines to Americans, with initial doses available by January 2021, according to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. Distribution will take place in phases, beginning with health care personnel and residents of long-term care facilities.
People 65 and older are next in line, but may have to wait until the spring and there’s a good chance healthy adults over the age of 65 may have to wait until spring or even summer to receive the vaccine. As a result, scammers make false promises of “early access” to a COVID-19 vaccine, counting on some Americans who wish to cut in line. The problem is, there is no actual early access through these offers.
Vaccine scammers only want to take your money in the form of a fee and deposit and then never deliver. “Consult your state’s health department website for up-to-date information about authorized vaccine distribution channels and only obtain a vaccine through such channels,” says the FBI.
Find out: 6 Signs of a COVID-19 Tracing Scam
2. Marketers selling vaccines
If someone offers to sell you a vaccine for a fee, that’s a red flag that you’re dealing with a vaccine scammer. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), both of the necessary COVID-19 vaccine doses will be “given to the American people at no cost.”
However, vaccination providers will be able to charge an administration fee for giving the shot to someone. “Vaccine providers can get this fee reimbursed by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund, according to the CDC.
To protect yourself against COVID-19 vaccine scams, the FBI recommends consulting your primary care physician before undergoing any vaccination.
Find out: 6 Signs of a COVID-19 Extortion Scam
3. Unsolicited emails, calls and messages
Be wary of unsolicited emails, telephone calls, texts or other contact from someone claiming to be from an insurance company, medical office or COVID-19 vaccine center. The caller may tell you that you need to provide personal or medical information to determine whether you’re eligible to receive the vaccine. Don’t hand over that sensitive information.
“Don’t share your personal or health information with anyone other than known and trusted medical professionals,” warns the FBI.
4. Requests to add you to a “waiting list”
If someone contacts you, asking you to pay out of pocket to obtain the COVID-19 vaccine or to add your name to a COVID-19 vaccine waiting list, hang on to your money. Such requests are potential indicators of fraudulent activity, says the FBI.
5. False claims of FDA approval
Another red flag of a COVID-19 scam is when the advertisement, marketer or person contacting you makes claims of FDA approval for a vaccine that can’t be verified, says the FBI.
Don’t fall for the scam. Instead, check for the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 vaccines available for emergency use on the FDA website.
Published by Debt.com, LLC