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  • BBB Scam Alert: Scams Continue As COVID-19 Vaccine Rolls Out

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    January 26, 2021
    BBB® - Tuesday Tips
    Scammers Now Taking Advantage
    of Vaccine Roll Out
    COVID-19 vaccine distribution is in full swing, and scammers have been quick to take advantage. BBB Scam Tracker is getting reports of cons ranging from calls phishing for personal information to messages claiming you need to pay to guarantee your dose. If you are eligible to receive the vaccine, be sure to double check any messages before sharing personal information.

    How the Scam Works

    You receive a phone call, social media message, or an email saying that you are eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. It appears to come from a friend, a public health official, or someone from a local hospital or clinic. That’s great news! You start to schedule your appointment, but you quickly find there’s a catch. The person who contacted you needs personal information or requires you to pay upfront.
    For example, in one version reported to BBB Scam Tracker, a phony caller claims that they need your Medicare number and home address. “I gave [the scammer] my Medicare number and confirmed my name and address,” one victim reported. “He said he was going to come out to my house to administer the [COVID-19] test, and then the vaccine but he never showed.” In another version, scammers are impersonating people on social media, contacting their “friends,” and claiming that – if paid – they can “guarantee… the vaccine ASAP.” In yet another version, scammers are offering vaccine shots for as low as $150, on apps and through email. 
    No matter what scammers insist, be sure to check it against information from your local government or official news sources. Even if you don't pay up, sharing personal information with scammers opens you up to the risk of identity theft.

    How to Spot and Avoid COVID-19 Scams 

    • Know your region’s plan for rolling out the vaccine. In the United States, each state has its own process for dispensing the vaccine. Check with your local government or health department. Understanding the process in your area and how you can expect to be contacted will help you spot a scam.
    • Research carefully: Scammers are very creative, so be skeptical of anything that seems too good – or crazy – to be true. Double check any information about the vaccine with official news sources, and be aware that none of the vaccines can be currently purchased online or in stores.
    • Guard your government-issued numbers. Never offer your Medicare ID number, Social Security number, health plan information, or banking information to anyone you don’t know or trust.
    • Think the link may be real? Double check the URL. Scammers often buy official-looking URL domains to use in their cons. Be careful to ensure that the link destination is really what it claims to be. If the message claims to be from the local government, make sure the URL ends in .gov. When in doubt, perform a separate internet search for the website or call the source directly.

    Additional Information

    BBB has identified many ways in which scammers are cashing in on the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about clinical trial and contract tracing cons, counterfeit face masks, and government agency imposters.
    If you have spotted a scam (whether or not you have lost money), report it to BBB Scam Tracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams.
    Find more information about scams and how to avoid them at BBB.org/AvoidScams.
    BBB of Northwest Florida
    912 E. Gadsden Street
    Pensacola, FL 32501
    Tammy Ward, Communications Director
    tammy@nwfl.bbb.org, (850) 429-0002