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Watch out for COVID Vaccine Scams


By Dennis Thompson
HealthDay Reporter

THURSDAY, March 11, 2021 (HealthDay Information) — One girl chatting on the Bumble courting app not too long ago struck up a dialog with a seemingly good man that led to them swapping texts.

“He instructed her that he was going to get the COVID vaccine. She expressed her curiosity, and he instructed her that she ought to pay him for it and he may get her a spot in line,” mentioned Amy Nofziger, director of sufferer help for the AARP Fraud Watch Community.

As a substitute, the lady reported the rip-off to fraud specialists, who mentioned they’ve heard about a variety of related schemes associated to the COVID-19 vaccination effort in america.

Intense demand for COVID vaccinations in america, mixed with confusion over how to enroll in one, have created a possibility for con artists to rip-off trusting people out of hard-earned cash and private info.

“We all know scammers comply with the headlines, they usually’re simply going to make the most of no matter is well timed,” mentioned Colleen Tressler, senior challenge supervisor with the U.S. Federal Commerce Fee’s Division of Shopper and Enterprise Schooling.

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Indicators of potential scams embrace:

  • Being requested to pay to get the vaccine.
  • Charging a price to realize early entry to a vaccine or so as to add an individual’s identify to a vaccine ready listing.
  • Provides by entrepreneurs to promote or ship doses of vaccine for cost.
  • Receiving adverts for vaccines by social media platforms.
  • Claims of U.S. Meals and Drug Administration approval for a vaccine or remedy of which you have by no means heard.

“There isn’t any value to doing this,” Tressler mentioned, noting that the vaccine is free to all People. “You do not pay to enroll in the COVID vaccine, so anybody who contacts you and asks for a cost to place you on a listing, to make an appointment for you or reserve a spot in line is a scammer.”

Basically, specialists recommend that you just be in your guard relating to any vaccine affords from unsolicited or unknown sources through e-mail, phone calls or textual content messages.

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“Scammers additionally may name folks and provide issues like a COVID-19 package or a coronavirus bundle, which actually means nothing. It is only a pitch,” Tressler mentioned.

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People ought to be significantly be involved if somebody has reached out to them with a proposal and ask for instant cost, significantly in the event that they ask for an uncommon type of cost, Nofziger mentioned.

“Criminals will often ask for types of cost which can be untraceable and just about instant,” Nofziger mentioned. These may embrace pay as you go present playing cards from Amazon or different websites, bitcoin or any cryptocurrency, peer-to-peer money switch apps like Venmo or PayPal, and wire transfers.

“No legit vaccine supplier goes to ask for any type of cost and even administrative price with a pay as you go, store-branded present card,” Nofziger mentioned.

One other crimson flag is an unsolicited name probing for private info like your Social Safety quantity, your Medicare quantity or checking account information, Tressler mentioned.

“If folks get a name from somebody claiming to be related to Medicare they usually ask for this info, we actually encourage folks to hold up as a result of that is not Medicare calling,” Tressler mentioned. “That is a scammer in search of that non-public info to make use of it to commit fraud, like id theft.”

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Even be nervous if the particular person is urgent you to behave instantly.

“If there appears to be a way of urgency, simply take a step again,” Tressler mentioned. Earlier than you act, talk about what you have been instructed with other people — your physician or pharmacist, an elected official, or possibly even household or pals.

The most effective protection for people who find themselves very eager about getting a COVID-19 vaccine is to be proactive, making calls themselves to well being suppliers, public well being departments and different trusted sources to enroll in their pictures, specialists mentioned.

That method, you are not counting on a mysterious name or textual content from an unknown supply to enroll in your COVID vaccine.

Even right here, although, there is perhaps some worries as a result of legit suppliers may ask to your Social Safety quantity or Medicare quantity, to allow them to be reimbursed for administrative prices associated to the vaccine, Nofziger mentioned.

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It is OK to ask the particular person why they want that info, and even to name a fraud hotline to ensure the request is legit, Tressler and Nofziger mentioned.

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“In the event that they’re making the decision to a trusted supply, it is good to ask that query, and in the event that they get a accountable reply then they will transfer ahead,” Tressler mentioned.

Anybody who suspects they’ve been the sufferer of a COVID-19 vaccine fraud ought to name or contact a number of of the next:

  • The FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI.
  • The U.S. Division of Well being and Human Providers at 1-800-HHS-TIPS.
  • The Federal Commerce Fee at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.
  • The AARP Fraud Watch Community at 1-877-908-3360.

Extra info

The U.S. Federal Commerce Fee has extra about avoiding COVID-19 scams.

SOURCES: Amy Nofziger, director, sufferer help, AARP Fraud Watch Community; Colleen Tressler, senior challenge supervisor, U.S. Federal Commerce Fee’s Division of Shopper and Enterprise Schooling

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