These are very exciting times as we begin to see vaccine administered across the country. It is also the perfect time for scammers to take advantage of individuals who may be feeling particularly vulnerable after months of COVID-19-related anxiety or fatigue.
Right before the holidays, a warning was sent out to the American public about several emerging fraud schemes related to COVID-19 vaccines. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) have received complaints of scammers using the public’s interest in COVID-19 vaccines to obtain personally identifiable information and money through various schemes.
So how can you keep yourself and your loved ones safe from scammers? The FBI has provided a helpful list of things to look out for as you are navigating the vaccination process.
What should you look out for?
Any of the following could be an indicator of potential fraud:
- Advertisements or offers for early access to a vaccine upon payment of a deposit or fee.
- Requests to pay out of pocket to obtain the vaccine or to put your name on a COVID-19 vaccine waiting list.
- Offers to undergo additional medical testing or procedures when obtaining a vaccine.
- Marketers offering to sell and/or ship doses of a vaccine, domestically or internationally, in exchange for payment of a deposit or fee.
- Unsolicited emails, telephone calls or personal contact from someone claiming to be from a medical office, insurance company or COVID-19 vaccine center and requesting personal and/or medical information to determine eligibility to participate in clinical vaccine trials or obtain the vaccine.
- Claims of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval for a vaccine that cannot be verified.
- Advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, emails, telephone calls, online or from unsolicited/unknown sources.
- Individuals contacting you in person, by phone or by email to tell you that government officials require you to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Where should you go for credible information?
If you have questions or concerns about the COVID-19 vaccine, Skagit County Public Health has two easy ways to get information.
- Visit our COVID-19 Vaccine webpage at: www.skagitcounty.net/COVIDvaccine
- Call our new COVID-19 Vaccine Hotline at (360) 416-1500. The hotline is available in English or Spanish, and operates Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m.
What else can you do?
- Check the FDA’s website for current information about vaccine emergency use authorizations.
- Consult your primary care physician before having any vaccination.
- Don’t share your personal or health information with anyone other than known, trusted medical professionals.
- Check your medical bills and insurance explanation of benefits (EOBs) for suspicious claims, and promptly report errors to your health insurance provider.
- Follow guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other trusted medical professionals.