COVID-19 Vaccination Scams

Topics: Small Business

Summary: As Americans begin to be vaccinated against COVID-19, there has been an increase in vaccine scams targeting personal and medical information. In this article, find out how to protect yourself, your family and your business from the cyber attacks from vaccination scams.

COVID-19 Vaccination Scams

COVID-19 Vaccination Scams

The first supply of the COVID-19 vaccination started to be distributed across the country in mid-December. Healthcare personnel, front-line workers and nursing home residents received their vaccines in the first group. State leadership teams are releasing schedules for the next age groups to receive the vaccine, with those 80 and over being inoculated first. While the vaccine rollout is good news for the country, health officials warn of scammers who promise early access to the vaccine for people who hand over corporate, personal or health information.

Scammers are targeting Americans with fake COVID-19 vaccination offers in attempts to steal your information and money, as well as hack your devices. Federal agencies led by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG) have alerted the public about these fraudulent coronavirus vaccine schemes. The government is warning that the scammers are using telemarketing calls, text messages, social media platforms and even door-to-door visits as part of their scheme.

What Are Vaccine Scams?

The vaccine fraudsters offer various incentives, such as COVID-19 vaccines, tests and Medicare prescription cards in exchange for personal details or access to computers. They use the information to commit medical identity theft, steal large sums of money or cause cyber attacks, damaging a business’s infrastructure.

State and federal officials warn the public of the ruthless criminals trying to capitalize on this historic vaccine and pandemic. Some of the vaccine cyber scams the FBI warns of include:
  • Ads offering early access to the vaccine at a fee
  • Requests for people to pay to put their names on a vaccine waitlist
  • Offers to ship vaccine doses for a fee
  • Emails or phone calls from someone claiming to be at a vaccine center, medical office or insurance company asking for personal and medical details to see if you’re eligible to obtain the vaccine
  • Ads for vaccines shared via social media, the internet, email or phone calls from unknown sources
  • Emails or phone calls claiming to be from the government saying you must receive the vaccine

Understanding the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution to Avoid Scams

While vaccination details are getting worked out, here’s what you can be sure of: You can’t pay to put your name on a waitlist to get the vaccine. That’s a scam. You can’t pay to get early access to the vaccine. That’s a scam. Nobody legit will call about the vaccine and ask for your social security, bank account, or credit card number. That’s a scam. Ignore any vaccine information that say direct, or ask for personal or financial information.

The Federal Trade Commission shares vaccine distribution information to determine if you have been the victim of fraud. Keep in mind:
  • There will not be a cost for receiving the vaccine
  • You cannot pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine or to receive earlier access
  • No one from a vaccine distribution site or health or private insurance company will call you asking for personal information such as social security number, credit card numbers or bank account information to allow you to sign up to get the vaccine
  • If you get a call, text or email claiming to give you early access to the vaccine, it is a scam
  • Report instances of fraud to the FTC at ReportFraud.ftc.gov, file a complaint with your state or territory attorney general or report it immediately online or call 800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477)



Protect Yourself and Your Business from COVID-19 Fraud

As the vaccine is distributed, more scams appear, so it is critical to talk to children, parents and friends about these threats. Having updated information about these attacks and knowing that they are happening at alarming rates can help ensure that you and your loved ones do not fall prey. Do NOT open or respond to text messages and hyperlinks about COVID-19 from unknown sources, as they may download malware that can potentially compromise your devices. If you receive an unsolicited call asking for information, health experts urge victims to hang up immediately.

There are many ways to protect you, your family and your business from a COVID-19 vaccine fraud. It is critical to be aware of scams to protect your personal information and finances. If someone you don’t know is reaching out to you via text, email or the internet regarding getting the vaccine, that should be a red flag. Additionally:
  • Be cautious of unsolicited requests for personal, medical and financial information as a way to receive the vaccine.
  • Follow official health and government resources, such as your state’s Department of Health and the CDC, for legitimate updates regarding the vaccine's distribution.
  • Never enter login information into a website that is opened from a link in an email. Only enter this information into a website that you navigated within a browser, such as typing in the web address or clicking on a bookmarked site.
  • Be aware that many emails requesting your personal information may appear to be legitimate. Never provide personal information of any sort via email.
  • Understand cybersecurity threats such as phishing and ransomware and have a data breach policy in place to be ready for cyber attacks.
  • Verify the spelling of web addresses, websites and email addresses that look trustworthy but may be imitations of legitimate websites.
  • Update anti-malware and anti-virus software and conduct regular network scans to help prevent cyber attacks.



Cyber Liability Insurance Protection For Your Business

AmTrust’s Cyber Liability insurance provides access to expert resources and financial support through investigation, notification, recovery and post-recovery activities related to a cyber attack. Contact us for more information about our cyber liability coverage.

This material is for informational purposes only and is not legal or business advice. Neither AmTrust Financial Services, Inc. nor any of its subsidiaries or affiliates represents or warrants that the information contained herein is appropriate or suitable for any specific business or legal purpose. Readers seeking resolution of specific questions should consult their business and/or legal advisors. Coverages may vary by location. Contact your local RSM for more information.
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