Scams: Vaccine Scams

With the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines, you know that scammers and their dirty tricks won’t be far behind. As with many scams, the bad guys are after both your money and your personal information. Along with claiming to sell early access to vaccines and saying that you are required to get a COVID test or antibodies test before getting a vaccine, scammers are offering unproven treatments and “cures” for the virus. All of this for a price, of course.

According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) some indications that you may be dealing with a scam include:

  • Advertisements or offers for early access to a vaccine upon payment of a deposit or fee
    Requests asking you to pay out of pocket to obtain the vaccine or to put your name on a COVID-19 vaccine waiting list
  • Suggestions of additional medical testing or procedures (for a fee or in exchange for Medicare or insurance information) when obtaining a vaccine
  • Marketers offering to sell and/or ship doses of a vaccine, domestically or internationally, in exchange for payment
  • Unsolicited emails, telephone calls, or personal contact from someone claiming to be from a medical office, insurance company, or COVID-19 vaccine center requesting personal and/or medical information to determine eligibility to participate in clinical vaccine trials or obtain the vaccine
  • Unverified claims of FDA approval for a vaccine
  • Advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online, or from unsolicited/unknown sources
  • Individuals contacting you in person, by phone, or by email telling you that the government requires you to receive a COVID-19 vaccine

The Department of Health and Human Services suggests you remember the following to keep yourself and your family safe from COVID-related scams:

  • You will not be asked for money to enhance your ranking for vaccine eligibility. Government and State officials will not call you to obtain personal information in order to receive the vaccine, and you will not be solicited door to door to receive the vaccine.
  • Medicare beneficiaries should be wary of unsolicited requests for their personal, medical, and financial information. Medicare will not call to offer COVID-19 related products, services, or benefits.
  • Do not trust unexpected callers or visitors offering COVID-19 tests or supplies. If you receive a suspicious call, hang up immediately.
  • Do not respond to, or click links in, emails or text messages about COVID-19 from unknown individuals.
  • Ignore offers or advertisements for COVID-19 testing or treatments on social media sites. If you make an appointment for a COVID-19 test online, make sure you are dealing with an official testing site.
  • Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone claiming to offer HHS grants related to COVID-19.
  • Be aware of scammers pretending to be COVID-19 contact tracers. Know that legitimate contact tracers will never ask for your Medicare number or financial information. They will not attempt to set up a COVID-19 test for you and collect payment information for the test.
  • If you suspect COVID-19 health care fraud, report it immediately online or call 800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477).