Scammers Cash in on COVID-19 Vaccination Confusion

by Colleen Tressler
Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC

With every passing day, the news on COVID-19 vaccine distribution seems to change. One reason is that distribution varies by state and territory. And scammers, always at the ready, are taking advantage of the confusion. Besides a big dose of patience, here are some tips to help you avoid a vaccine-related scam, no matter where you live:

  • Contact a trusted source for information. Check with state or local health departments to learn when and how to get the COVID-19 vaccine. You can also talk with your health care provider or pharmacist.
  • Don’t pay to sign up for the vaccine. Anyone who asks for a payment to put you on a list, make an appointment for you, or reserve a spot in line is a scammer.
  • Ignore sales ads for the COVID-19 vaccine. You can’t buy it – anywhere. The vaccine is only available at federal- and state-approved locations.
  • Watch for unexpected or unusual texts. If your health care provider or pharmacist has used text messages to contact you in the past, you might get a text from them about the vaccine. If you get a text, call your health care provider or pharmacist directly to make sure they sent the text. But scammers are texting, too. So don’t click on links in text messages – especially messages you didn’t expect.
  • Don’t open emails, attachments, or links from people you don’t know, or that come unexpectedly. You could download dangerous malware onto your computer or phone.
  • Don’t share your personal, financial, or health information with people you don’t know. No one from a vaccine distribution site, health care provider’s office, pharmacy, or health care payer, like a private insurance company or Medicare, will call, text, or email you asking for your Social Security, credit card, or bank account number to sign you up to get the vaccine.

If you know about a COVID-19 vaccine scam, let the FTC know at ReportFraud.ftc.gov. Or, file a complaint with your state or territory attorney general through consumerresources.org, the consumer website of the National Association of Attorneys General.

Three Ways to Avoid COVID-19 Vaccine Scams

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