As people across the country try to secure COVID vaccine appointments, groups known as “vaccine hunters” are offering to help people find and book appointments. Unfortunately, there are scammers taking advantage of the situation. While vaccine hunters typically share information about where to snag a shot and will often help strangers make the appointments, the Better Business Bureau is warning that these groups have become a new favorite target for scammers.
These are their tips for avoiding getting conned while looking for a vaccine appointment:
- Always go through official public health channels and approved providers – The exact providers for COVID vaccines varies by location, but you can find the list in your area by using VaccineFinder.org. Use official providers, like your local health department or a pharmacy, to schedule your appointment.
- Anyone claiming to sell vaccines is a scam – Digital Citizens Alliance found scam Facebook pages promoting vaccines made in China and scammers offered to sell the phony vaccines after being contacted through Facebook Messenger.
- Don’t pay to add your name to a waiting list or to get the vaccine – The BBB Scam Tracker has gotten reports of cons charging for fake vaccine appointments, but vaccine providers can’t charge for it and the federal government is providing COVID vaccines for free to everyone living in the U.S.
- Be careful about giving out personal info – You don’t need to give your bank account details, credit card information or Social Security number to schedule an appointment.
- Double check URLs before entering personal info – The BBB warns that scammers buy official-looking URLs to scam us with, so make sure the link you’re using is actually what it claims to be. If it’s from the government, make sure the URL ends in .gov. And you can always verify by doing an Internet search for the website or calling the source directly.
- Do your research – Scammers are creative, so if something seems too good to be true, be skeptical and play it safe.