By Kathy Knotts
As vaccines for COVID roll out across the region, so do the number of scammers capitalizing on the chance to get your personal information. Earlier this month, the Maryland U.S. Attorney’s Office shut down the fourth domain name claiming to be the website of a company producing a treatment for COVID-19.
Law enforcement and medical providers are also hearing numerous reports of people receiving unsolicited emails or text messages asking them to complete a “limited-time survey” about COVID vaccines. In some cases, people are offered a free gift or reward to complete the survey in a timely manner, but are asked to pay for shipping fees. No legitimate surveys ask for your credit card or banking information.
Officials want you to remember that the vaccines are free and you never have to put down a “refundable deposit.” You do not need to give financial information or your social security number to get a vaccine or to answer a survey. You cannot buy a vaccine, pay a fee to move up the waiting list or have a vaccine shipped to your home.
If you receive an unsolicited message asking for any of your financial details:
- Don’t click on any links or open any attachments
- Don’t call or use the telephone number displayed in the email or message
- Don’t give any personal information, including your credit card or bank account numbers
If you receive one of these emails or text messages, report it at: https://reportfraud.ftc.gov/#/?pid=B or https://oig.hhs.gov/fraud/report-fraud/. If you believe you are a victim of a fraud or attempted fraud involving COVID-19, you may also call the National Center for Disaster Fraud Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or for more information visit: justice.gov/coronavirus.