Scam Alert: Watch Out for COVID Vaccine Scams

little girl getting COVID vaccine

Most Americans are eager to receive the COVID-19 vaccine as a way to look toward a healthier future and return to normalcy according to a recent poll. Unfortunately, scammers know how to take advantage of this information. They can use this optimism to steal your money or, perhaps worse, your identifying information, consumer advocates fear. They are warning the public about scams that promise early access to vaccines in exchange for information and other personal data.

Here’s what you need to know to protect you and your family from these vaccination scams.

Guidelines for vaccine distribution are being established by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and will ultimately be determined by the state in which you reside. You can learn when and how you can get vaccinated at the CDC’s website.  

As plans and timelines are worked out, consumers are urged to be wary of anyone claiming to have vaccine doses for sale. In fact, there should be little if any cost associated with the vaccine. Doses purchased with taxpayer dollars will be free, but providers may be able to charge administrative fees for providing shots. Check with your provider beforehand if there will be a fee involved with your immunization and if it will be covered by your health insurance plan.

Any communication, including a text, call, email, or knock on the door, promising early access to the vaccine is an attempt to scam you. Do not respond with any personal information.

If you receive such a communication, do not respond to it but report it to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. You can also file a complaint with your state’s attorney general through consumerresources.org, the National Association of Attorneys General’s consumer website. 

Here’s a good rule of thumb: If you want legitimate information about COVID immunizations, get it from legitimate sources. Start with your state health department, which will provide accurate and most up-to-date information on its website.

Your health care providers are other legitimate sources of vaccine information you can trust. They know your health situation the best and can offer sound guidance as to when and where you should receive the vaccine.

Stay in close contact with your trusted sources of information and continue to follow safety protocols while you wait for your vaccine. Use your patience and common sense to avoid the damage a scam can wreak.

For more information about COVID-related scams and tips on how to recognize, avoid, and report them, see ftc.gov/coronavirus/scams.

 

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About Author

Sandra Quadros Bowles
Sandra Quadros Bowles

Sandy Quadros Bowles is a veteran journalist who has received local, state, and national journalism awards. A resident of New Bedford, MA, she is an animal enthusiast, an avid reader, and an enthusiastic traveler.

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