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Federal and State Agencies Issue Warning of COVID-19 Vaccine Scams

Vaccine distribution training exercise. PC: Hawai‘i Department of Health

Federal agencies issued a warning of potential COVID-19 vaccine scams as coronavirus vaccine distributions begin across the country.

Here are some signs of potential scams:

  • You are asked to pay out of pocket to get the vaccine.
  • You are asked to pay to put your name on a vaccine waiting list or to get early access.
  • Advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online or from unsolicited/unknown sources.
  • Marketers offering to sell or ship doses of the vaccine for payment.

The public is urged to protect themselves from COVID-19 vaccine scams by not giving out personal information to unknown resources.

The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs is also reminding Hawai‘i residents to be on guard against scam attempts tied to the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines.

Possible variations of the scam could include someone requesting payment for early access to the vaccine, or to be placed on a wait list. Scammers may even ask for your social security number or other personal information claiming they’ll help you sign up to get the vaccine. The department advises the public: “Don’t fall for it.”

DCCA OCP Executive Director Stephen Levins said, “People should avoid opening or responding to text messages and emails with hyperlinks about COVID-19 from unknown sources as it may lead to malware that can allow scammers to access private information through your electronic devices. The best practice is to simply ignore or hang up on anyone offering unsolicited services.”

You’re also reminded to check with your healthcare provider first before exploring any COVID-19 related treatment. 

If you believe you have been the victim of COVID-19 fraud, immediately report it to:

  • HHS-OIG Hotline: 1-800-HHS-TIPS ; tips.hhs.gov
  • FBI Hotline: 1-800-CALL-FBI ; ic3.gov
  • CMS/Medicare Hotline: 1-800-MEDICARE

Original source: https://mauinow.com/2020/12/24/federal-and-state-agencies-issue-warning-of-covid-19-vaccine-scams/

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