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Be Wary of COVID-19 Vaccine-Related Scams

The total number of doses of COVID-19 vaccines administered statewide now outpace the number of Floridians who have been reported to have contracted the novel coronavirus. With the rollout of vaccines and the increasing number of individuals seeking to secure them, scammers have devised multiple methods attempting to take advantage of vaccination distribution, according to Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody.

“Florida is turning the corner with vaccinations outpacing infections,” Moody stated in a prepared release. “This is great news, but it would be a mistake to let your guard down now – we need to remain vigilant, not only in preventing the spread of COVID-19, but also in protecting against scams that exploit the pandemic in an effort to steal your money or identity. By becoming familiar with emerging vaccine scams and how to avoid them, we can stop fraudsters and build a Stronger, Safer Florida.”

Below are a few emerging COVID-19 vaccine scams reported by consumers in Florida and nationwide:

Identity Theft: Vaccination cards issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention include the recipient’s full name, date of birth and vaccine location – information that scammers can use to hack online accounts or commit identity theft. Additionally, these cards may be used to create convincing-looking fake vaccine documentation.

Paid Appointments: Scammers may post fraudulent appointment booking pages or call, text or email offering to set up an appointment and/or expedite access to the vaccine for a fee. Any offer requiring payment to place the consumer on a waitlist, secure an appointment or expedite access to the vaccine is a scam.

Scam Appointment Calls: Scammers may call would-be victims posing as county health officials or a vaccination site representative setting up an appointment. Rather than requesting payment, these callers are seeking private information to be used to commit identity theft or fraud. These scam artists may even tell victims to arrive at a local vaccination site at a specific date and time to bolster their ruse. Be wary of anyone soliciting personal information – such as a birthdate or social security number, Medicare number or credit or banking information – in order to secure an appointment.

Supposed In-Home Vaccinations through Medicare: Fraudsters claiming to be from Medicare may offer seniors in-home vaccination and request a Medicare number to confirm an appointment, but this too is a scam. While Medicare cards no longer contain social security numbers, the card number is still private data that could be used to commit Medicare fraud and should be protected.

Currently in Florida, persons 65 years of age and older, health care personnel with direct patient contact, along with residents and staff of long-term care facilities are prioritized to receive a COVID-19 vaccination. To keep up with the Florida Department of Health’s vaccine availability, click here.

Anyone who suspects a COVID-19 vaccine-related scam should report it to the Attorney General’s Office by calling 1(866) 9NO-SCAM or visiting MyFloridaLegal.com.

Bill Lewis of Fort Lauderdale – Radio talk show host, Starbucks connoisseur, social media whiz, political consultant, extreme coupon shopper, identity theft expert, columnist, philanthropist and his kids Dad. As a nationally recognized credit repair and ID theft expert, Bill Lewis is principal of William E. Lewis Jr. & Associates, a solutions based professional consulting firm specializing in the discriminating individual, business or governmental entity.