DAYTON — The coronavirus pandemic dominated 2020, but going into 2021, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The government has recently authorized both the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines for COVID-19. There are also other vaccines in their final stages of trial, such as Astraeneca, Janssen and Novavax.
Many of us are excited or anxious about these vaccines because it may mean a return to life as we knew it before the pandemic. However, when times are urgent and uncertain, scammers tend to thrive. US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is already working with drug companies to stop scammers from selling phony vaccines to the public. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has also already issued warning letters to several companies claiming they had a product to cure or prevent the virus.
John North, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Dayton and the Miami Valley, says, “People may be eager and ready to get the coronavirus vaccine. But, like everything else, you need to do your research and protect yourself from scams.”
Better Business Bureau offers tips to avoid COVID-19 vaccine scams:
- Do your research and look out for information that seems too good to be true. Always double check information you see online with official news sources.
- Consult with your doctor to determine your options for getting the vaccine. If you don’t have a doctor, check your local health department website.
- Watch out for phishing messages attempting to trick you into sharing your password and personal information. Con artists have already impersonated the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in phishing emails.
- Be wary of calls for immediate action. It may be a scammer trying to use urgency to fool you into a fake vaccine or get your personal information.
- Beware if you’re asked to pay out of pocket to get the vaccine.
- Don’t provide personal information or pay money to those claiming they can get you the vaccine quickly or put you on a waitlist.
- Avoid texts, emails or robocalls you may receive about the COVID-19 vaccine.
- Be skeptical of advertisements for vaccines through social media, email, telephone calls, online or from unsolicited/unknown sources.
- Don’t purchase the vaccine online. It’s not available online.
- Check the URL if you’re suspicious of a link. Be sure it ends in .gov if it claims to be a message from the government.
If you spot a scam, you can report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams. You can also report it at tips.hhs.gov, ReportFraud.ftc.gov and ic3.gov. You can also check out companies with the BBB by visiting BBB.org or calling (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.