If there’s one evergreen truth in this day and age, it’s that scammers will jump at any opportunity to get money out of unsuspecting people. Often they do this by posing as a member from an easily-recognized organization, such as the Internal Revenue Service or the Drug Enforcement Administration.
Naturally, as we live through the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and await the vaccine, scammers are using the pandemic as an opportunity to target people and steal their money or information. The Better Business Bureau, Department of Health, and FBI have all made statements about this type of scam. Namely, they warn that if anyone calls you regarding a “vaccine wait list,” the call is a scam.
The slow vaccine rollout has caused a lot of confusion among Americans. Unfortunately, scammers are capitalizing on the confusion. One of the most common scams involves someone posing as a health official and requesting personal information. You may receive a text, email, or phone call mentioning the vaccine. Some may ask you to pay for the vaccine out of pocket. Others may ask you to register for a vaccine “wait list,” which is not real. Others still may use a benefits request form or similar to trick you into providing personal information.
If you receive any calls or messages like these, it’s important to ignore them. Similarly, don’t interact with any links in text messages or emails, which can contain dangerous computer viruses. As always, be careful of what information you share online. Real health officials won’t ever ask you to share your Social Security number or financial information over phone, email, or text. The CDC has said that Americans won’t have to pay for the vaccine (though you may have to pay administration fees out of pocket). Regardless, you don’t need to—and shouldn’t—give out bank information over email, phone, or text.
Lastly, though the wait for a vaccine has been long and filled with challenges, it’s important to remain patient. The idea of “early access” to the vaccine is enticing, but it just doesn’t exist. Look to official sources for any and all information pertaining to the vaccine, such as your local health department, doctor’s office, and the CDC.