The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the northern district in Illinois is warning residents to be on the lookout for fraud schemes related to the release of new coronavirus vaccines.
In a press release Tuesday, residents were warned that scammers could potentially use a variety of tactics to steal money as vaccines from Moderna, Pfizer and other companies potentially hit the market in coming weeks and months.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office is saying that there isn’t a way for residents to “jump the line” for COVID-19 vaccines, warning against giving personal information out over the phone or online to unknown entities.
“Scammers often use telemarketing calls, text messages, social media postings and door-to-door visits to perpetrate fraud,” U.S. Attorney John Lausch Jr. said in a statement. “The fraudsters may falsely offer the vaccine or early access to it in exchange for money or personal identifying information, such as Social Security numbers or medical history.”
Residents are encouraged to contact their health care providers directly for information the vaccine, including when they will be eligible to receive it.
The office also offered several other tips for residents to help steer clear of scams related to the vaccine:
-Do not click on links in emails from sources you don’t know. These links could be attempts to download viruses onto computers or cell phones.
-Ignore online or phone offers for COVID-19 vaccinations. Health care providers will not ask for money or personal identifying information over the phone or the internet.
-Never send money or disclose Social Security numbers, date of birth, bank accounts or other information to unfamiliar persons. The vaccine is expected to be offered free of charge in the U.S., and you cannot pay to put your name on a list to obtain it early.
Those who feel they have been victims of fraudulent schemes related to the virus can report it to the Department of Health and Human Services, according to Lausch’s office. Residents can also call 1-800-447-8477.