As the COVID-19 pandemic continues into 2021, so do the number of reported fraud cases. Several government agencies, including the U.S. Treasury and FBI, have issues warnings due to the uptick in scams related to the COVID-19 vaccine.
The Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network recently warned of an array of scams, including the “sale of unapproved and illegally marketed vaccines, the sale of counterfeit versions of approved vaccines, and illegal diversion of legitimate vaccines.” You should continue to be on the lookout for those trying to steal your personal identifying information, funds or both with the false promise of a vaccine.
The FBI notes the following as potential indicators of fraud:
- 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
The FBI also offers the following tips to avoid being a victim of vaccine-related fraud:
- 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.
- Check the Food & Drug Administration’s website 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 report any errors to your health insurance provider.
- Follow guidance and recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other trusted medical professionals.
By stepping back and assessing the situation, you can often save yourself from making a costly mistake. Your local bank associates are also trained to help spot a fraud and take extra steps to protect you from losing your valuable funds to a con artist. If you suspect you may be the target of fraud, please contact your local Busey branch or call 1.800.67 | Busey.
For more information on fraud and other online scams, visit the Information Security section of Busey’s Money Matters blog.