BOSTON — They call, email and even text. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey says there are many scammers looking to cash in on people’s concerns over when they will get the COVID-19 vaccine.
On Thursday, Boston 25 News Anchor Kerry Kavanaugh spoke with Healey about what you need to be aware of as vaccine distribution ramps up here in Massachusetts.
Kavanaugh: Attorney General Healey, we know a lot of people are anxious, concerned about when they’ll have access to the COVID-19 vaccine. And, scammers you found out are already taking advantage of people’s concerns here. Some making some bogus claims they can help people skip the line.
Attorney General Healey: “You know unfortunately with this pandemic, we’ve seen scams pop up. My message to the public is look to your government leaders, community leaders, the CDC, your doctors. Rely on these people for your vaccine information and don’t be scammed. What we have seen that there are reports out there of people sending emails, making phone calls, these are scams.
Kavanaugh: “I assume the big red flags here are ‘we need information from you’, ‘we need payment information from you.’”
Attorney General Healey: “Exactly, people with either email you or call you and say ‘Hey, we can help you hop the line and get access to the vaccine.’ Or, ‘We’re calling from the CDC and we need your information so you can qualify for the vaccine. So, give us your social security give us your personal information and also give us a credit card number so we can get you signed up and get you vaccinated.’ This is completely bogus. It’s a scam and just avoid it.”
The AG’s Office encourages residents to follow these tips:
- Email Scams: Beware of unsolicited emails that purport to have a link to register for the COVID-19 vaccine. These phishing emails may be an attempt at identity theft and may contain hyperlinks and downloads for malware that can allow fraudsters to take over computers and steal information. If you receive an email from your employer or health care provider about signing up for an appointment, call them to verify. Do not open unsolicited emails or click links in emails or text messages from people you don’t know, be wary of email attachments, and never provide personal information, including passwords, bank account details, or your Social Security number via email to an unverified source.
- Phone Scams: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has become aware that members of the general public are receiving scam phone calls appearing to originate from the CDC through caller ID, as well as scammer voice mail messages saying the caller is from the CDC. Scammers, either via telephone calls, text, or email, will attempt to obtain personal sensitive information in exchange for purported access to the COVID-19 vaccine. Refer to the official CDC website for updates on COVID-19 and for reliable information on vaccine availability.
- Disinformation Campaigns: Leading up to and following the authorization of COVID-19 vaccines by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), online campaigns with a range of disinformation have flourished, sparking fear and distrust about vaccines. In order to prevent the spread of misinformation, don’t forward these false messages. Instead, for accurate information, consult with reputable sources including your doctor, trusted community leaders, the CDC, Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), and your city or town board of health.
- Requests for Payment: Be wary of any unsolicited offers that require you to provide your insurance or doctor’s information or ask for payment or a deposit in exchange for early access to vaccines. You can’t pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine or to get into a vaccine clinical trial. Information about how to access the vaccine will be widely disseminated by DPH when the vaccine becomes available to the general public. Massachusetts residents will not have to pay out of pocket for the vaccine.
To report one of these scams to the Massachusetts Attorney General click here.
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