Beware of These COVID-19 Vaccine Scams!
January 18th, 2021
It’s been almost a year since we first heard news of a novel coronavirus emerging on the other side of the planet. Since then, it has circled the globe, causing nearly two million deaths worldwide, and over 350,000 in the U.S. as of this writing. Hospitals and healthcare workers are overwhelmed, and those who have managed to avoid infection so far are justifiably concerned about remaining healthy—especially older people and those with underlying health conditions.
Fortunately, help is on the horizon, in the form of multiple vaccines that have shown to be quite effective against the virus. Despite how rapidly the virus appears to have been created, much of the research involved in its development has been going on for years, long before the virus itself emerged, and the virus is safe.
Understandably, after almost a year of isolating, mask-wearing, and being separate from family and friends, many Ohioans are eager to get the COVID-19 vaccine—perhaps even desperate. The fact that far fewer people received the vaccine by the end of 2020 than anticipated has fueled that desperation. It is not surprising that people are looking for shortcuts to get the vaccine sooner rather than later.
Unfortunately, situations like this create fertile ground for con artists and scammers looking to make a quick buck off of people urgently seeking to protect their health. Be on the alert for the following COVID-19 vaccine scams.
Four Signs a COVID-19 Vaccine Offer is a Scam
At this point, you may be expecting to wait weeks or months to receive a vaccine. If an opportunity crops up sooner, should you take it? Don’t jump too quickly. Consider these four signs that a COVID vaccine offer is a scam.
You Are Asked to Pay Out of Pocket to Get the COVID Vaccine.
We are used to paying for our medications, sometimes hundreds of dollars or even more. But if someone offering a COVID-19 vaccine tells you a vaccine is available to you, but only if you pay out of pocket, back away. The government is making the vaccine available to all Americans at no cost; someone who wants you to pay is not a legitimate purveyor of the vaccine.
You Are Asked to Pay to Get Priority for the Vaccine (or on a Waiting List)
You cannot legitimately pay money to be given priority to get the COVID-19 vaccine; anyone who asks you to is acting unethically. Similarly, there are no legitimate waiting lists you can pay to be placed on for the vaccine that will result in you being vaccinated earlier than you otherwise might have.
You See Vaccine Doses Offered for Shipment.
Certain prescription medications are available to order online or by phone and receive through the mail, but COVID-19 vaccines are not among them. If a marketer offers to ship or sell vaccines to you in exchange for payment, it’s a fraud: steer clear.
Any Unsolicited Offers or Social Media Advertisements for the Vaccine.
If you receive a phone call out of the blue or an unsolicited email with an offer to get the COVID-19, or if you see advertisements on social media platforms, stay away—especially if money is being requested (see above). These are not legitimate avenues to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
In the best case scenario, fraudulent vaccine offers just take your money. In the worst, you might be provided a “vaccine” that is actively harmful to your health. As difficult as it is to wait, the best course of action is to stay in touch with your known and trusted health care providers and get your information about vaccine availability from them and other reliable sources.
How to Get Reliable COVID-19 Vaccine Information and Report Fraud
The State of Ohio is committed to ensuring citizens have trustworthy, up-to-date information about COVID-19 and the vaccine, as well as protection from fraud. If you need to find out the latest about COVID-19, you can go to:
- The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 Portal
- FBI COVID-19 Resources
- S. Department of Justice COVID-19 Response
If you or someone you know has been a victim of COVID-19 fraud, report it so that the perpetrators can be held accountable and so that others will not be victimized:
- HHS/OIG Hotline: 1-800-HHS-TIPS or submit a complaint online;
- FBI Hotline: 1-800-CALL-FBI or the Internet Crime Complaint Center;
- CMS/Medicare Hotline: 1-800-Medicare
These are challenging times for all of us, but there is light at the end of the tunnel. If you have further questions about this article or about safeguarding your family’s future, please contact Gudorf Law.