Watch Out For These COVID-19 Vaccine Scams, AG Healey Says

BOSTON (WBZ NewsRadio) — Attorney General Maura Healey is advising residents to be aware of reported and potential scams and misinformation surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine.

According to the AG’s Office, potential scams have already begun to emerge, falsely promising early access to the vaccine, promoting disinformation, and presenting risks related to unsolicited offers asking for payment and personal information.

"While Massachusetts has begun the process of vaccinating health care workers and residents and staff of long-term care facilities, the vaccine will not become widely available to the general public for several months," Healey's office said Wednesday. "These vaccines are incredibly important to keep us healthy and help us defeat this pandemic, but unfortunately scammers are already trying to take advantage of this moment."

Healey's office said residents should be aware of email scams, which may appear int he form of unsolicited emails that purport to have a link to register for the COVID-19 vaccine.

"These phishing emails may be an attempt at identity theft and may contain hyperlinks and downloads for malware that can allow fraudsters to take over computers and steal information," Healey said.

If you receive an email from your employer or health care provider about signing up for an appointment, Healey said employees should call them to verify.

"Do not open unsolicited emails or click links in emails or text messages from people you don’t know, be wary of email attachments, and never provide personal information, including passwords, bank account details, or your Social Security number via email to an unverified source," Healey said.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said it has also become aware that members of the general public are receiving scam phone calls appearing to originate from the CDC through caller ID, as well as scammer voice mail messages saying the caller is from the CDC.

CDC officials said scammers, either via telephone calls, text, or email, will attempt to obtain personal sensitive information in exchange for purported access to the COVID-19 vaccine, and that residents should refer to the official CDC website for updates on COVID-19 and for reliable information on vaccine availability.

AG Healey also cautioned people in the Commonwealth to be aware of potential disinformation campaigns surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine.

"Leading up to and following the authorization of COVID-19 vaccines by the FDA, online campaigns with a range of disinformation have flourished, sparking fear and distrust about vaccines," Healey said. "In order to prevent the spread of misinformation, don’t forward these false messages. Instead, for accurate information, consult with reputable sources including your doctor, trusted community leaders, the CDC, Massachusetts Department of Public Health, and your city or town board of health."

Residents should also be wary of any unsolicited offers that require you to provide your insurance or doctor’s information or ask for payment or a deposit in exchange for early access to vaccines.

"You can’t pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine or to get into a vaccine clinical trial," Healey said. "Information about how to access the vaccine will be widely disseminated by DPH when the vaccine becomes available to the general public. Massachusetts residents will not have to pay out of pocket for the vaccine."

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Written by Brit Smith

(Photo: Getty Images)

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