Unfortunately, the scammers keep finding new ways to try to illegally gain access to your personal information – and today’s warning we wanted to share with you has to do with COVID-19 vaccination scams. As vaccinations are rolling out across the United States, many people are signing up for appointments online. In some cases, people are receiving texts about their vaccinations, but are unsure if they are legitimate or not. If you hesitate before clicking on links in those types of texts – good job! But even though many of these are illegal phishing scams, there might be a few legitimate texts you can receive.
According to the Federal Trade Commission, people who sign up for a COVID vaccine online might receive a legitimate text message, but with so much fraud occurring, it’s important that you read the text message thoroughly.
VaxText: Legitimate vaccine related texts
The VaxText messaging service, offered by the CDC, is a free resource that you (the patient) can opt-in for that will send reminder text messages when it’s time to get your second dose of COVID-19 vaccine. VaxText offers the added benefit of reminding patients to sign up for v-safe, a tool that allows people to report adverse outcomes following vaccination.
If you already had your first dose, but don’t remember signing up for this service, it’s because it’s often a part of the fine print that automatically signs you up unless you opt out.
VaxText texts will ask vaccine recipients who participate for basic vaccination information (i.e., vaccination date, COVID-19 vaccine name) so it can provide reminders based on how long until you are supposed to schedule your second shot. VaxText WILL NOT ask you for any personal information or personal health information, so if you see these types of questions you should delete that text without responding or clicking on any links.
For more information about VaxText, see the CDC website article here: About VaxText Service.
How to protect yourself against vaccine-related scams
Now that you know the one type of text you can trust, here are a few tips to protect yourself from some of the other vaccine-related scams and dangers out there today:
- Do not reply or click on links in any texts or emails that ask for personal information such as social security, passwords, deductible payments, etc.
- Many people are posting photos proudly to social media after getting vaccinated showing off their Vaccination Record Cards. If you decide to join the #gottheshot movement and do this, too, be sure to block out the personal information on the card such as your full name, date of birth, where you live or got the shot, etc.
- Don’t pay to sign up for the vaccine. Anyone who asks for a payment to put you on a list, jump ahead in the line, make an appointment, or reserve a spot in line is a scammer.
- Ignore “sales” for the COVID-19 vaccine. You can’t buy it anywhere, including online pharmacies. The vaccine is only available at federal- and state-approved locations, such as vaccination centers and pharmacies.
- Don’t share personal, financial, or health information with people you don’t know. No one from a vaccine distribution site, health care provider’s office, pharmacy, health insurance company or Medicare, will call, text, or email you asking for your Social Security, credit card, or bank account number to sign you up to get the vaccine.
And finally, while this tip is not security related, we think it’s useful and should be shared: While you definitely want to keep your vaccination record card around for a while, don’t run out and get it laminated. If you do, caregivers can’t record the date of the second shot on your card or any future follow up shots you might get.