The newly-approved COVID-19 vaccine means a chance to reunite with loved ones and return to normalcy for many, but for scammers, a vaccine means an opportunity to steal from hopeful consumers.
After using the pandemic to sell fake testing kits and promote fraudulent vaccine trials, the Better Business Bureau anticipates scammers will use the vaccine rollout to lure individuals into phishing scams or paying for fraudulent treatments.
According to the the Better Business Bureau, consumers may notice an increase in suspicious texts or emails claiming to have information about the vaccine in exchange for personal information.
Consumers may also find advertisements on social media or letters in the mail informing them where they can purchase the vaccine, BBB said.
The Better Business Bureau said consumers should remember the following tips before opening messages or ads regarding the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Research carefully: Fact check any information you receive about the vaccine using official sources such as the Centers for Disease Control or the Food & Drug Administration. The FDA is also regularly updating its website with any progress made on developing treatments.
- Ask your doctor: Those interested in receiving the vaccine early should discuss their options with a healthcare provider. Those without a primary care physician can find more information on their local health department's website.
- Avoid acting immediately: Scammers may urge consumers to act quickly by paying for treatment or sharing information before they have time to think through the decision. Although some may want to be first in line to receive the vaccine, consumers should take time to do thorough research before acting.
- Check the URL: Websites run by scammers can be persuasive, so check the URL and look for suspicious typos. If the information appears to be coming from a government website, the web address will end with .gov. The URL should also begin with "https," which indicates a site is secure.