Have you ever thought to yourself, “I want signing up for a COVID vaccine to be more difficult?” If you have, you’re in luck: As part of the National Consumer Protection Week campaign, the Federal Trade Commission is warning that identity thieves are impersonating vaccine clinic workers to make a quick buck.
What is the COVID vaccine phishing scam?
Identity thieves posing as vaccine clinic workers are asking victims to make a payment and, in some cases, provide financial data and personally identifiable information to secure a COVID vaccination appointment. As with other phishing scams, criminals are firing off phone calls, emails, and text messages to snare vulnerable Americans who desperately want to put the pandemic in the rear view.
What can I do to avoid the scam?
The FTC put together a list of tips that can help you avoid falling victim to these COVID scams:
- Don’t pay to sign up for the COVID 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.
- You can’t pay to get early access to the vaccine. That’s a scam.
- On Medicare? You don’t have to pay to get the COVID-19 vaccine. Only scammers will ask you to pay.
- Ignore sales ads for the vaccine. You can’t buy it – anywhere. It’s only available at federal- and state-approved locations.
- Nobody legit will call, text, or email about the vaccine and ask for your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number. That’s a scam.
The next step is spreading the word about these COVID scams. Make sure everyone in your accounting office, your clients, and friends and family are aware of these scams and how to spot them. (In the moment—especially when frustrated, scared, or confused—even the most security-conscious people can get tricked by these scammers. So, watch out!)
Where do I report phishing scams?
The FTC and IRS have pages dedicated to walking you through the reporting process.
- For general phishing scams, visit FTC.gov
- For tax-related phishing scams, visit gov/Privacy-Disclosure/How-to-Forward-the-Header-of-a-Phishing-Email
Once you’re inoculated against these scams, it’s time to schedule a real appointment. Be sure to check announcements from your state government regarding eligibility and how to schedule an appointment.
Source: “Help fight COVID vaccine scams: Share these tips with those you know,” FTC.gov