COVID vaccine scams use fake appointments, shot promises to steal money, personal info

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Better Business Bureau has issued an alert as COVID-19 vaccine scams become more common as distribution ramps up.

The BBB said victims have given up personal information and lost money as they try to get vaccinated.

SEE ALSO | COVID-19 herd immunity explained

Thieves are phishing for information by phone call, text and email, luring victims with stories about getting the COVID vaccine.

"They're actually hitting hard now. The scammers, not only in Chicago or Illinois, all across the country as well; because everybody's scared or fearful the emotions are running high," said Chicago Area Better Business Bureau President Steve Bernas.

RELATED: Biden administration to boost COVID-19 vaccine supply amid shortages

Bernas said that reports are coming in from people who have fallen victim to vaccine scams, some losing money and giving up their Medicare, bank and Social Security numbers.

"You've got to be very careful and you don't have to give out the information that's specific information, or to get the vaccine. But the scammer is trying to tell you that you need to," Bernas advised.

Don't click on suspicious links and beware of social media messages from people you think are your friends; scammers can hijack their accounts. Never give personal info to any provider you don't know or trust. If you get an email or text about signing up for a vaccine, contact your medical provider, government agency or health department directly instead for information vaccinations.
"We're getting reports from the East Coast where they actually said they would come to your house by paying $150 to give you the vaccine, and obviously that didn't show up after taking the person's money as well so they're just promising anything," said Bernas. "It's all too good to be true, and at times like this please take a pause; keep both feet on the ground, as you're reviewing this manner, and make sure that you check it out."

RELATED: Illinois COVID vaccine rollout frustrates residents in Chicago, suburbs; appointments, doses, data hard to find

Also beware of bogus offers asking you to pay for a spot in a vaccine line.

Experts say you should never pay upfront for a vaccine. The Centers for Disease Control said vaccine doses purchased with tax dollars are given at no cost. In some cases, there could be an administrative fee which is covered by insurance. You can't be denied a vaccine if you can't afford the administrative fee.
Copyright © 2021 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.