Federal agencies say fraud schemes related to COVID-19 vaccines have popped up, from people trying to obtain personal information and money.
“As a word of caution, the health department does not request financial information when contacting individuals for appointments,” says Champ Thomaskutty with the Calvert County Health Department.
Be on the lookout for:
- Advertisements or offers for early access to a vaccine upon payment of a deposit or fee
- Requests asking you to pay out of pocket for the vaccine or to put your name on a waiting list
- Offers to undergo additional medical testing or procedures when getting 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 eligibility
- Claims of FDA approval for a vaccine that cannot be verified
- Ads for vaccines through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online, or from unsolicited/unknown sources
- People 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
How to avoid COVID-19 vaccine-related fraud:
- Consult Maryland’s health department website for up-to-date information about authorized vaccine distribution channels. Only get a vaccine through these channels.
- Check the FDA’s website (fda.gov) 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 reporting any errors to your health insurance provider.
- Follow guidance and recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other trusted medical professionals.
- Never provide personal information of any sort via email; be aware that many emails requesting your personal information may appear to be legitimate.
- If you believe you have been the victim of a COVID-19 fraud, immediately report it to the FBI (ic3.gov, tips.fbi.gov, or 1-800-CALL-FBI) or HHS OIG (tips.hhs.gov or 1-800-HHS-TIPS).
* Tips are provided by The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).