Scammers are preying on Missourians who are trying to get coronavirus vaccinations. Larry Jones, executive director of the Missouri Center for Public Health Excellence, tells Missourinet criminals are trying to steal personal information by pretending to be from a local health department or another organization.
“Health departments, etc. are not going to be asking people for their credit card numbers or personal information of that nature,” says Jones. “They are going to be wanting to know your name, probably a telephone or an email to be able to get back with you. But they are not going to be asking you for financial information.”
They might even be using authentic-looking vaccine sign-up forms.
“They look very legitimate like they are a local health department in Missouri and they are not,” says Jones. “When you go onto their site, they start asking for their credit card and their Medicare or Medicaid numbers and things of that nature.”
The con artists can have a new scam ready to go within hours and vanish just as quickly.
The Better Business Bureau has the following tips:
• Know your region’s plan for rolling out the vaccine. In the United States, each state has its own process for dispensing the vaccine. Check with your local government or health department. Understanding the process in your area and how you can expect to be contacted will help you spot a scam.
• Research carefully: Scammers are very creative, so be skeptical of anything that seems too good – or crazy – to be true. Double check any information about the vaccine with official news sources, and be aware that none of the vaccines can be currently purchased online or in stores.
• Check with your doctor: If you want a vaccine early, reach out to your healthcare provider about your options. If you don’t have a primary care physician, check out the official website of your local health department for more information.
• Guard your government-issued numbers. Never offer your Medicare ID number, Social Security number, health plan information, or banking information to anyone you don’t know or trust.
• Think the link may be real? Double check the URL. Scammers often buy official-looking URL domains to use in their cons. Be careful to ensure that the link destination is really what it claims to be. If the message claims to be from the local government, make sure the URL ends in .gov (for the United States). When in doubt, perform a separate internet search for the website or call the source directly.
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