As wonderful as it is to have a plethora of opportunities to get your COVID-19 vaccine, there comes the danger of getting scammed in the process. People looking to get a hold of your personal information are using this time to capitalize off of those of us trying to get protected. If you are worried about getting a vaccine appointment on your own, contact your state or local health department to learn when and how you can get vaccinated; your healthcare provider, pharmacist, or health insurance provider can also provide you with a vaccine appointment.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) announced that people had been reporting receiving phone calls, texts, and emails asking them to complete a limited time survey about the Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca vaccine in exchange for a “free reward” where they would have to only pay the shipping cost. These types of messages should not be responded to and do not click any links included. These are the trademarks for a scam.
The FTC posted a list of tips to help avoid getting scammed:
- Do NOT pay to sign up for the vaccine: the vaccine is free and you will not be asked to pay in any way.
- Ignore sales ads for the vaccine: it is impossible to buy the vaccine, even from pharmacies, as it is only available at federal and state approved vaccination centers and pharmacies.
- Watch for unexpected or unusual texts: do NOT click on any links attached, especially from unknown numbers that are unexpected. A healthcare provider or pharmacist may text or email you, if you are unsure about a message make sure that they are the one contacting you.
- Don’t open emails, attachments, or links: just as with text messages, if you don’t know the sender do not click any links as these can download malware onto your phone or computer.
- Don’t share your personal, financial, or health information: No one from a vaccine distribution site, healthcare provider, pharmacy, health insurance company, or Medicare will call, text, or email you asking for your Social Security Number, credit card, or bank account number to sign up for the vaccine.
- Be wary of caller ID: this can be faked to look like a real call from a government agency. A real government agency will not call with threats, promises, or demands for money.
If you think you are being contacted by a scammer, keep a record of the incident and any information exchanged, then report the suspicious activity to the U.S Department of Justice’s National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 866-720-5721 or through the NCDF Web Complaint Form.
Overall, you cannot pay to get the vaccine faster, nor will you be asked to pay for it at any time. You cannot be charged or denied for being uninsured, underinsured, or being an illegal immigrant. You also cannot be charged for any other fees surrounding your vaccination unless you personally ask for another service at the time of receiving your vaccine, however that charge will not reflect the vaccine.