The rise in Americans going out and getting the COVID-19 vaccine has also brought about a rise in the number of opportunistic scammers looking to take advantage of the pandemic, law enforcement officials are cautioning.
An alert was issued by police in the area regarding COVID-19 vaccine scams that have been reported to law enforcement agencies across the country.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), scammers have been using telemarketing calls, text messages, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits to perpetrate COVID-19-related scams.
“Fraudsters are offering COVID-19 tests, HHS grants, and Medicare prescription cards in exchange for personal details, including Medicare information. However, these services are unapproved and illegitimate,” HHS-OIG officials said.
“These scammers use the coronavirus pandemic to benefit themselves, and beneficiaries face potential harm,” they added. “The personal information collected can be used to fraudulently bill federal health care programs and commit medical identity theft.”
As a precaution, an area police department issued a warning and provided a series of common-sense tips to avoid becoming the victim of a fraudster:
Signs of a potential scam include:
- If you are asked to pay out of pocket to get the vaccine;
- If you are asked to put your name on a vaccine waiting list or to get early access;
- Some advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online, or from unsolicited/unknown callers;
- Marketers offering to sell or ship doses of the vaccine for payment.
Officials noted that one should never give out personal information to unknown sources.
Anyone who believes they have been the victim of COVID-19 fraud has been advised to report it to the HHS-OIG hotline at 1-800-HHS-TIPS, the FBI at 1-800-CALL-FBI, or the Medicare Hotline at 1-800-MEDICARE.
A complete list of tips to protect yourself from scammers, courtesy of HHS-OIG can be found here.
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