Federal agencies are warning the public about a series of COVID-19-related scams.
“Scammers are using telemarketing calls, text messages, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits to perpetrate COVID-19-related scams,” the Office of the Inspector General said in a statement.
Fraudsters are reportedly offering phony COVID-19 tests, HHS grants and Medicare prescription cards “in exchange for personal details.” All of these “services are unapproved and illegitimate.”
According to the FBI, scammers are also looking for money, in addition to personally identifiable information.
Here’s what to beware of, according to the FBI:
- Advertisements or offers for early access to the vaccine in exchange for money
- Offers to undergo additional medical testing or procedures when getting a vaccine
- Offers to sell and/or ship the vaccine for a fee
- Unsolicited emails, telephone calls or texts from someone claiming to work in the medical field, insurance or a vaccine center that request personal and/or medical information to determine eligibility for the vaccine or vaccine trials
- Claims that the FDA approved a vaccine that have not been verified
- Ads for vaccines through online platforms, telephone calls and emails
- Being contacted in person, by phone or by email to inform you that the government require you receive a vaccine
To protect yourself, the Inspector General reminds the public:
- Remain vigilant to scams. You will not be asked for money to enhance your vaccine ranking or eligibility, and state and government officials will not call you to obtain personal information to receive the vaccine
- You will not be solicited door-to-door to receive the vaccine
- Be suspicious of unsolicited requests for personal, medical and financial information
- Hang up immediately if you receive a suspicious call
- Do not respond to or open hyperlinks in text messages about COVID-19 from unknown people
- Ignore offers or advertisements about COVID-19 testing and treatments on social media sites.
- Make sure you make an appointment for a COVID-19 test at an official testing site
- Don’t give personal or financial information to anyone offering HHS grants related to COVID-19.
- Beware of fraudsters pretending to be COVID-19 contact tracers. Official contact tracers will not ask for financial information, your Medicare number or try to set up a COVID-19 test for which they collect payment
The Inspector General asks that the public report any fraudulent behavior online or by calling 800-HHS-TIPS.