As distribution of COVID-19 vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration continues, bad actors are trying to capitalize through robocall and text scams. Vaccination plans vary across state and local governments. Check with your state or local health department to learn when and how to get the COVID-19 vaccine, including any potential boosters. You can also talk with your health care provider, pharmacist, or health insurance provider to learn more.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) posts alerts on its webpage – Coronavirus Advice for Consumers – about COVID-19 scams. A recent article warns about potential vaccination certification scams. There's currently no national standard for vaccination verification, so if you get a call, email, or text from someone saying they're from the federal government, and asking for personal information or money to get a national vaccine certificate or passport, that's a scam, the FTC said.
Another alert sheds light on a COVID-19 vaccines scam survey. People have reported getting emails and text messages asking them to complete a limited-time survey about the Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca vaccine in exchange for a "free reward," for which they're asked to pay shipping fees. Do NOT respond to any such message and don't click any links. This is a scam. There's no survey and no reward.
- Don't pay to sign up for the vaccine. Anyone who asks for a payment to put you on a list, make an appointment for you, or reserve a spot in line is a scammer.
- Ignore sales ads for the COVID-19 vaccine. You can't buy it – anywhere, including online pharmacies. The vaccine is only available at federal- and state-approved locations, such as vaccination centers and pharmacies.
- Watch for unexpected or unusual texts. Don't click on links in text messages – especially messages you didn't expect. If your health care provider or pharmacist has used text messages to contact you in the past, you might get a text from them about the vaccine. If you get a text, call your health care provider or pharmacist directly to make sure they sent the text. Scammers are texting, too.
- Don't open emails, attachments, or links from people you don't know, or that come unexpectedly. You could download dangerous malware onto your computer or phone.
- Don't share your personal, financial, or health information with people you don't know. No one from a vaccine distribution site, health care provider's office, pharmacy, health insurance company or Medicare, will call, text, or email you asking for your Social Security, credit card, or bank account number to sign you up to get the vaccine.
In short, you can't pay to skip the line, reserve your spot, or join a critical trial. Be wary of any inbound calls or texts that ask for your Social Security number, financial details, or insurance information to reserve your spot.
Report COVID-19 vaccine scams to the FTC online, reportfraud.ftc.gov.
FCC Consumer Information
The FCC COVID-19 Consumer Guide has information about coronavirus scams and how you can avoid becoming a victim, along with helpful tips on cell phone hygiene and optimizing your home wireless network, and more.