Flim-flam men, identity thieves and other sketchy types waited for the COVID-19 vaccine with as much anticipation as the rest of the American public, but for a different reason — another foundation for fraud.
Though the Pfizer and Moderna versions of the vaccines acquired FDA approval within the last two weeks, the FBI, Health Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General, and Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services already are hearing about vaccine-based scams.
Some scams want your money. Some want your information.
Here’s how to recognize them:
▪ Offering something nebulous in the future for your money now.
“Be among the first to get the vaccine! Get on a vaccine waiting list! Just pay us this right now and we’ll…”
They’ll take your money and run.
▪ Emails, phone calls, knocks on the door from people saying they need your personal information (name, address, medical insurance, Social Security Number) so you can be vaccinated or be in trials for another novel coronavirus vaccine.
Politely decline, unless you want your identity stolen. Ask for their information, take it down and take it to your known medical professional. That’s who you deal with when talking about vaccines or participating in clinical trials for anything.
▪ Do you see or receive offers for a generic version of the vaccine that claims to have received FDA approval? Don’t fall for it.
Pfizer and Moderna are the only vaccines approved as of right now, and the authorization they received wasn’t typical approval, but emergency use authorizations. They’re not Tylenol or Viagra — generic versions don’t exist and FDA-approved generic versions might not exist for a while.
Check any vaccine approvals on the FDA website’s COVID-19 vaccine page. Oh, and if the offer you receive tells you to click on a link to see its FDA approval, don’t do it — click on the link in the last sentence or FDA.gov and get there the long way. Fake FDA websites, with addresses that don’t have “FDA.gov” as their foundation, are set up like one of those phony rooms on the old “Mission: Impossible” TV show.
▪ A phone call, email or person tells you, “You’re required to receive the vaccine!”
No, you’re not. Anybody who tells you otherwise, should be reported to a law enforcement agency.
You can contact the FBI at 800-225-5324 (CALL-FBI) or go to ic3.gov.