As COVID-19 vaccines become more available to the public, Texans are eager to find them. Luckily, online communities are banding together to help individuals locate open appointments. However, these “vaccine hunter” sites can attract scammers looking for vulnerable targets.
In one scenario, scammers insist on receiving personal information, such as Social Security or Medicare numbers, before they can schedule an appointment. Scammers may also use these platforms to convince consumers they need to buy the vaccine instead of scheduling an appointment. This provides them with an opportunity to sell fake vaccinations or medications.
Scammers have become skilled in the art of creating fraudulent and lookalike websites. A common tactic with this approach is to use names similar to those of well-known platforms and organizations. A consumer may think they’re on the correct page, but if they look closely, they’ll see small differences that give away the fake site.
Although people are anxious to get vaccinated and return to normal, remember to search cautiously. Remember these tips from your Better Business Bureau:
Go through official channels. The safest way to find a vaccine is to search for availability through pharmacies or the local public health department. Another option is to visit VaccineFinder.org, which is approved and promoted by the CDC.
Watch your money. The United States government is providing all people living in the U.S. with a free COVID-19 vaccine, regardless of immigration or health insurance status. Reject any offers to purchase a dose, and do not pay for an appointment.
Check the URL. To avoid lookalike sites with soundalike names, pay close attention to the URL. First, check for any misspellings or incorrect characters, then look for the lock icon next to the URL. The icon indicates a website is secure.
Protect your information. It is important to remember that you will not need to provide your bank account details, Social Security number or credit card information in order to schedule an appointment. Cut off contact with anyone asking for this information.
To learn more about avoiding vaccine scams, visit us at BBB.org.