LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Consumers are being advised to beware of COVID-related scams as developments in medical treatments and economic relief begin to roll out.
Attorney General Daniel Cameron’s Office issued a consumer protection alert last week to warn Kentuckians of scams involving the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. The Better Business Bureau also began warning of possible scams involving the vaccine when the Pfizer vaccine was first approved in December.
“The con artist will prey upon desperation, and certainly, with the COVID-19 vaccine ready to be administered, many folks who have been waiting for so long and lost family members to it, it would be very easy for you to fall for that scam in the hopes of getting that life-saving vaccine,” said Heather Clary, who is with the BBB Central Kentucky.
Scammers may try to convince people that they can get early access to the COVID-19 vaccine if they share personal information, such as passwords or their social security number. They may also push to sell fake vaccines or treatments they claim work better than the vaccines approved by the FDA.
“If something does sound right, if it doesn’t feel right in your gut, if you have any reason to hesitate and think something is amiss, follow that instinct. You’re usually right,” said Clary.
Access to the vaccine is not the only COVID-19 related scam to watch out for.
With government stimulus checks on their way to Americans, reports of people being asked to trade personal information for their checks or pay processing fees to receive them are also popping up on BBB Scam Tracker reports.
“A lot of folks have missed some paychecks from work, they’ve got bills piling up, they’re waiting for that hope to come through in the form of a stimulus check,” said Clary. “If it sounds too good to be true, it just is. You can’t let your desperation cloud your judgment when it comes to making decisions about these things and possibly falling for the trap a con artist may be trying to set for you whether it’s by phone, online, or by other methods.”
These scams can come in the form of texts, emails, calls, or social media. The BBB offers the following tips for spotting these kinds of scams:
- Research the information you’re receiving carefully.
- Check with your healthcare provider or with your local health department if you are unsure whether you should be receiving the vaccine at the time.
- Ignore calls for immediate action and don’t reply directly to contacting efforts. Instead, reach out to government or health agencies directly.
- Check for look-alike government/healthcare organizations and agencies.
- Do not pay money for a ‘free’ government grant, program, or service.