FBI and Virginia Department of Health Partner to Warn of Fraud Schemes Related to COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution
Now that effective vaccines have been developed to combat COVID-19, criminals are capitalizing on public demand to steal money, identity, and personal information.
The FBI and Virginia Department of Health are warning the public about several emerging fraud schemes such as advertisements or offers promising early access to a COVID-19 vaccine for a fee, or callers requiring irrelevant personal or financial information to register for a vaccine appointment.
A COVID-19 vaccine is always free, and no legitimate source will try to sell you a vaccine. Virginia state and local agencies will not ask for a social security number or immigration status. Health care providers may ask for insurance information, but your vaccination is not dependent on your insurance status.
How to verify legitimate information:
Because calls to schedule vaccine appointments could come from a variety of sources, the Virginia Department of Health encourages everyone to answer their phone even when they do not recognize the number. If the call is coming from the statewide call center, the number should show up as 877-VAX-IN-VA or 877-829-4682; however, the call could also be coming from your local health department, a local pharmacy, or other private providers or partners.
If you are asked to visit a website or give information online, make sure the website or email ends in "gov."
The public should be aware of signs of potential scams:
You are asked to pay out of pocket to get the vaccine.
You are asked to pay to put your name on vaccine waiting list or to get early access.
You are offered a vaccine appointment but asked to provide financial information, or irrelevant personal information such as your social security number.
Tips to avoid COVID-19 vaccine-related fraud:
Follow guidance from official sources. To obtain information regarding COVID-19 vaccine distribution in Virginia, visit the state website at https://www.virginia.gov/coronavirus/covid-19-vaccine/.
Do not post a photo of your CDC vaccination card on social media. These cards may contain your name, date of birth, and the location where you received your vaccine. Criminals can use these images to steal your identity and commit fraud.
Do not provide financial or irrelevant personal information in response to unsolicited phone calls, emails, or advertisements. Examples of sensitive information include but are not limited to banking information, social security numbers, and answers to online security questions such as your mother’s maiden name.
Check your medical bills and insurance explanation of benefits (EOBs) for any suspicious claims and promptly report any errors to your health insurance provider.
Report COVID-19 Fraud
Report possible fraud to the FBI at ic3.gov or 1-800-CALL-FBI.
Contact the Virginia Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Section at 1-800-552-9963.