FBI Warns of COVID-19 Vaccine Scams
If there's one thing in this world you can depend on, it's scammers seizing every opportunity to grift people, even (well, especially) during a public health crisis.
The FBI, HHS-OIG, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services are trying to get the word out about fraudsters working to gather personal information and money from people trying to obtain a COVID-19 vaccination.
They've had multiple reports of ads and offers for "early access" to a vaccine in exchange for payments and fees, as well as scammers asking for out-of-pocket payments for vaccines that, of course, never materialize and personal information submitted by people hoping to get on vaccine waiting lists.
Some scammers are calling or emailing folks and pretending to be with medical offices, insurance companies, vaccination centers, and even government offices asking for personal info to determine someone's eligibility for vaccination or even claiming that the recipient is required to be vaccinated and must fill out forms and provide payment information.
Naturally, there are also shady people placing ads online or calling out of the blue and offering to sell vaccine doses.
To help prevent you becoming prey to a modern-day Moses Pray, the FBI has some tips:
Consult the Texas Health and Human Services website for up-to-date information about authorized vaccine distribution channels and only obtaining a vaccine through such channels.
Check the FDA’s website (fda.gov) for current information about vaccine emergency use authorizations.
Consult your primary care physician before undergoing any vaccination.
Don’t share your personal or health information with anyone other than known and trusted medical professionals.
Check your medical bills and insurance explanation of benefits (EOBs) for any suspicious claims and promptly reporting any errors to your health insurance provider.
Follow guidance and recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other trusted medical professionals.
Raymond Cockrell with the Killeen Food Care Center tells our partners at News 10 he's concerned about vulnerable seniors being targeted by these scams, so be sure to warn your elder relatives and friends to be wary of anyone who's not with their insurance company or healthcare team claiming they need personal and financial information in exchange for a vaccination.
“To all you seniors out there, please, if you receive any calls, just know that the authorities will not call you for this vaccine," Cockrell said. "Please, go through your insurance or medical provider and make it happen, but don’t ever give away information over the phone, ever.”
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