Tips on Avoiding a COVID Scam
The latest COVID scam promises that you can get the COVID vaccine or move up on the waitlist for a fee.
But falling for these false promises leaves you open to having your identity stolen or your bank account drained.
With the chance to get vaccinated, our emotions are running high. We may let down our guard if we think there is a quick way to the vaccine, especially if someone is pressuring us to respond.
Protect yourself from this COVID scam by knowing the facts about how to get vaccinated.
Facts About Getting the COVID Vaccine
There has been a lot of misinformation during the pandemic, so it is important to know the myths and facts about the COVID vaccine itself.
Likewise, it has not always been clear what is true when it comes to how you can be vaccinated. Here are some important facts to know:
- COVID vaccines are free, even if you don't have health insurance. You will not have to pay anything or put down a "refundable deposit."
- You don't need to give the following information to schedule a vaccine appointment:
- A credit card number or bank account information
- Your Social Security number
- Any other personal or financial information
- The vaccine is given only at locations approved by the state. (See vaccine locations in Maryland.)
- The vaccine cannot be shipped to your house.
- You cannot buy a vaccine card; you will receive one from the site after your first shot.
Identifying a COVID Vaccine Scam
Scammers play on our emotions by promising something special – in this case, the vaccine – while they try to gain access to our personal information.
You can avoid being scammed by knowing the signs:
- While you are scheduling your vaccine appointment, a chat box pops up that asks for your credit card information or personal identification (Social Security number, State ID etc.).
- An email from a social media account or an unrecognized health organization asks you to sign up for the vaccine.
- A robocall or phone solicitor asks for your credit card or Social Security number.
- A letter in the mail offers special deals on the vaccine for a fee.
- Someone is pressuring you into making a quick decision that requires your financial or personal identity information.
If you have any doubts about being contacted to sign up for the vaccine, talk to someone you trust. You can also find details about the vaccine at covidvax.maryland.gov.
Protecting Your Personal Information
You may encounter individuals or groups offering to help you sign up for the vaccine. Please ensure you are sharing your personal information only with a person you trust.
Do not share your phone number, location, financial information or other personal information in any public forum. Anyone else in that group, and possibly in the social media platform, can see this information.
If you have questions about the vaccine sign-up process, contact these healthcare professionals by phone.
- Maryland County Health Departments: Each county has a dedicated phone line for COVID-19 questions.
- 2-1-1.org: Call 2-1-1 for additional information about COVID-19.
Other COVID Scams
Unfortunately, vaccine scams are just a few of the many COVID frauds that have popped up since this pandemic started. People have fallen victim to fake COVID-19 testing sites and kits, fake N95 masks and even claims of cures that are not true.
Learn more tips to help you identify COVID scams at the Federal Trade Commission's Coronavirus Advice for Consumers.
Reporting a COVID Scam
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) keeps a running list of Fraud Alerts related to COVID-19.
If you see a scam or are the victim of one, contact the HHS-OIG:
Remember, no matter which version of the vaccine you get, you do not have to pay for it. Being aware of how scammers operate will protect you from falling for a COVID scam.
UMMS provides our expert-reviewed content to keep our community informed. When sharing this copyrighted content, please link to our site so that critical updates are reflected.