KANSAS CITY, Mo. — While more than 4.2 million Americans have already received their first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine, millions more are waiting.
Scammers are using the uncertainty to prey on people desperate to gain access.
The FBI, the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services have already received complaints of fraudsters trying to steal personal information and money from victims.
The agencies said red flags of these schemes include:
- Offers for early access to a vaccine by paying a deposit or fee
- Requests to pay out of pocket to obtain the vaccine or a spot on a waiting list
- Unsolicited calls and emails from someone claiming to be from a medical office, insurance company or vaccine center. The scammer may ask for personal or medical information to determine eligibility for the vaccine
Experts warn of online ads promoting unapproved COVID-19 vaccines available for purchase.
"Middle ground is you get sterilized water, it doesn't work and you go out and risk transmission to others," Dr. Tim Mackey, associate professor of anesthesiology and global public health at UC San Diego, told KGTV.
Your credit card information and identity could also be stolen. Even worse, there could be serious health repercussions.
"You could get a product that is spoiled, a needle that is not sterile, and then you could get infected with another disease," Mackey said.
Keep in mind the vaccine roll-out will be slow at first, and vaccines will certainly not be available for purchase online.
The best place to find up-to-date information about the vaccine is through your state health department.
The Kansas Department of Health and Environment posts a weekly update on its website.
Meanwhile, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services has an entire website devoted to the topic.