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How can I avoid vaccine scams?

Last Updated: 04/12/2021

The FBI has issued an alert warning of several emerging fraud schemes related to COVID-19 vaccines to illegally obtain sensitive personal information or money.

Signs of potential COVID-19 vaccine scams include:

  • Advertisements or offers for early access to a vaccine upon payment of a deposit or fee
  • Requests asking you to pay out of pocket to obtain the vaccine or to put your name on a COVID-19 vaccine waiting list
  • Offers to undergo additional medical testing or procedures when obtaining a vaccine
  • Marketers offering to sell or ship doses of the vaccine for payment
  • Advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online, or from unsolicited/unknown sources
  • Unsolicited emails, telephone calls, or personal contact from someone claiming to be from a medical office, insurance company, or COVID-19 vaccine center requesting personal and/or medical information to determine recipients' eligibility to participate in clinical vaccine trials or obtain the vaccine

In addition, the NJ Office of Homeland Security and Preparedness has warned about several disinformation campaigns and vaccine-related scams including:

  • New Jersey residents receiving fake text messages impersonating the New Jersey Department of Health regarding the COVID-19 vaccine and asking for personal information.
  • Fake vaccine surveys offering gifts and prizes for completion are circulating via text and email.
  • False information circulating online about the first COVID-19 vaccine distribution mischaracterizes the motives behind vaccine production and attributes ulterior agendas to those receiving it.
  • Various actors, including state and non-state entities, are leveraging pandemic fears and knowledge gaps to spread disinformation and sow discord about the vaccine within the United States.

Note: No one will have to pay for the vaccine itself in New Jersey or to register. The COVID-19 vaccine will be available without cost sharing barriers. To learn more, refer to this article.

Tips to avoid COVID-19 vaccine-related fraud

  • Visit covid19.nj.gov/vaccine for up-to-date information about authorized vaccine distribution channels and only obtain a vaccine through such channels.
  • Do NOT share your personal or health information with anyone other than known and trusted medical professionals.
  • Avoid online vendors purporting to sell "legitimate" vaccines on dark web marketplaces. Advertisements may include the illicit sale and distribution of counterfeit or unauthorized COVID-19 vaccines and treatment.
  • Check the FDA's website (fda.gov) for current information about vaccine emergency use authorizations.
  • Consult your primary care physician before undergoing any vaccination.
  • Check your medical bills and insurance explanation of benefits (EOBs) for any suspicious claims and promptly reporting any errors to your health insurance provider.
  • Follow guidance and recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other trusted medical professionals.

To report any instance of unlawful or misleading activities related to COVID-19, file a complaint online with the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs or call 973-504-6240.

Source: https://www.fbi.gov/news/pressrel/press-releases/federal-agencies-warn-of-emerging-fraud-schemes-related-to-covid-19-vaccines; https://www.njhomelandsecurity.gov/disinformation