BBB: Watch for scams as COVID-19 vaccine passports near

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FILE – In this undated photo, provided by NY Governor’s Press Office on Saturday March 27, 2021, is the new “Excelsior Pass” app, a digital pass that people can download to show proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test. Vaccine passports being developed to verify COVID-19 immunization status and allow inoculated people to more freely travel, shop and dine have become the latest flash point in America’s perpetual political wars, with Republicans portraying them as a heavy-handed intrusion into personal freedom and private health choices. (NY Governor’s Press Office via AP, File)

(ABC4) – As COVID-19 vaccines continue to be administered locally and around the world, the conversations surrounding vaccine passports are also ramping up.

While New York is rolling out a digital pass for people to show they have been vaccinated or tested negative for COVID-19, other states like Florida and Texas have already taken steps to ensure government-mandated vaccine passports won’t be allowed within their jurisdiction.

This comes even while the Biden administration has already said it doesn’t plan to mandate the usage of vaccine passports.

But, others are reminding us that we already have to show similar documents, like the ‘yellow fever passport,’ and COVID-19 vaccine passports may soon be as common. With that in mind, some, like the Better Business Bureau (BBB), is warning that vaccine passport scams are sure to follow.

COVID-19 vaccine scams

The BBB has already been on high alert, warning Americans of vaccine-related scams as more shots are being administered.

One scam targets potential victims, posing as an email or text survey about your vaccine from Pfizer, one of the three companies behind the currently approved COVID-19 vaccines. According to the BBB, scammers will claim you can receive money or a “free” product for completing the survey. But, don’t click that link – the BBB says you’ll be prompted to attach your credit card information to a “free trial offer,” which then opens the gateway for scammers to bill you many times over and never send you a product.

Another scam relies on you sharing a photo of your COVID-19 vaccination card. While you may be tempted to post a photo of your vaccination card on social media to encourage friends and family to roll up their sleeves, the BBB advises you don’t. That card can contain your personal information – like your full name and birthday – that can make you vulnerable to identity theft. The BBB offers other ways to safely share the news that you’ve received your COVID-19 vaccine.

COVID-19 vaccine passports – and the scams you may see

According to the BBB, COVID-19 vaccine passports are likely going to be a QR code on your phone that can be scanned before you board a flight or enter an event. Like other new initiatives, the BBB says scammers will likely find ways to take advantage of the confusion and anxiety surrounding the change.

Here’s what to watch for as vaccine passports become more common:

  • Be skeptical of any vaccine passport app that claims to be from the U.S. government: As we said before, the Biden administration currently doesn’t have any plans to establish a national vaccine passport. Any message you receive claiming to be the government requiring a vaccine passport is likely a scam.
  • Check with your airline, sports team, venue, etc. to see if you need a vaccine: The BBB says you may need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or vaccine before attending an event or boarding a flight. As COVID-19 policies are frequently changing, you should check with your event venue, organizers, or company before flights or events to see what you need.
  • Don’t buy a fake vaccine card: Scammers have already begun selling fraudulent vaccine cards online – don’t purchase one. The BBB says misrepresenting yourself as vaccinated means you put yourself and others around you at risk of contracting COVID-19.
  • Do your research: If you do receive an invitation to download a COVID-19 vaccine passport app, the BBB says you should do your research before entering your personal information. If it seems too good to be true, it’s likely a scam.
  • Guard your government-issued numbers: Never share your Social Security number, Medicare ID number, health plan information, or banking information with anyone you don’t know or trust, the BBB reminds.
  • Double-check that link URL: Scammers have been known to buy official-looking URL domains – the BBB says you should be careful to ensure the link destination is really what it claims to be. For example, if the message claims to be from the government, the URL should end in .gov. When in doubt, do a separate internet search for the website, or call the source directly.

Will ‘COVID-19 passports’ be required in Utah?

Could you be required to show a “COVID-19 passport” in Utah to see movies, go to concerts, attend a sporting event or eat at your favorite restaurant?

“A venue might want to encourage people to come by saying we’re ‘vaccine required’ so you can be safe if you come here,” said Leslie Francis, a distinguished professor at the University of Utah.

For Governor Spencer Cox’s reaction, click here.

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