SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) – Federal agencies warn of emerging fraud schemes related to COVID-19 vaccines, Sunday.
On January 17, officials ask the public to stay vigilant and alert as COVID-19 vaccine scams circulate across the nation.
“The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) are warning the public about several emerging fraud schemes related to COVID-19 vaccines,” they warn.
According to officials an influx of complaints have been received regarding obtaining personally identifiable information (PII) and money.
“The FBI, HHS-OIG, and CMS have received complaints of scammers using the public’s interest in COVID-19 vaccines to obtain PII and money through various schemes,” the FBI informs. “We continue to work diligently with law enforcement partners and the private sector to identify cyber threats and fraud in all forms.”
In order to stay safe, authorities share potential indicators of fraudulent activity:
Advertisements or offers for early access to a vaccine upon payment of a deposit or fee
Requests asking you to pay out of pocket to obtain the vaccine or to put your name on a COVID-19 vaccine waiting list
Offers to undergo additional medical testing or procedures when obtaining a vaccine
Marketers offering to sell and/or ship doses of a vaccine, domestically or internationally, in exchange for payment of a deposit or fee
Unsolicited emails, telephone calls, or personal contact from someone claiming to be from a medical office, insurance company, or COVID-19 vaccine center requesting personal and/or medical information to determine recipients’ eligibility to participate in clinical vaccine trials or obtain the vaccine
Claims of FDA approval for a vaccine that cannot be verified
Advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online, or from unsolicited/unknown sources
Individuals contacting you in person, by phone, or by email to tell you the government or government officials require you to receive a COVID-19 vaccine
Officials also share tips on how to avoid falling victim to the very fraudulent schemes mentioned above.
“Consult your state’s health department website for up-to-date information about authorized vaccine distribution channels and only obtaining a vaccine through such channels,” informs the FBI. “And consult your primary care physician before undergoing any vaccination.”
According to officials, it’s always best to visit the FDA’s website for all current information about vaccine emergency use authorizations.
“Don’t share your personal or health information with anyone other than known and trusted medical professionals,” they add. “Check your medical bills and insurance explanation of benefits (EOBs) for any suspicious claims and promptly reporting any errors to your health insurance provider.”
The FBI then goes on to mention that the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other trusted medical professionals will always be the best sources for gathering guidance and recommendations.