As the first FDA-approved coronavirus vaccine rolls out across the United States, the Better Business Bureau has issued a new warning: be on the lookout for phony versions of a vaccine.
“We want consumers to be forewarned [and] become educated,” said Steve Bernas, the president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois.
The BBB says there are already reports of scam calls offering people a chance to avoid long lines and receive an early dose of the Pfizer vaccine for $79.99.
“This is my 33rd year at the BBB, and it’s probably the worst types of scams I’ve seen. These scammers are heartless and relentless,” said Bernas.
Watch out for phishing messages attempting to trick you into sharing your passwords and personal information. The BBB has also seen an increase in scams using robocalls to impersonate government officials.
Fraudsters are using telemarketing calls, text messages and social media platforms to market fake products.
To spot a likely COVID vaccine con, research carefully, be skeptical and do not respond to any solicitations about the vaccine, experts recommend.
They also say you should check with a doctor or trusted healthcare professional about vaccine eligibility and not buy any kind of COVID-19 vaccine or treatment on the internet or from an online pharmacy.
Lastly, ignore calls for immediate action. Scammers use urgency to cloud judgement and try to trick consumers into acting before thinking.
Government officials are cracking down on fraudulent products. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is sending warning letters to firms and websites selling products with claims to prevent, treat or cure the coronavirus that have not received federal authorization. The FDA recommends consumers do not purchase from the websites listed here.