You might think with all that’s going on, the pandemic, political weirdness, the usual irritation of winter, nobody would intentionally add to the problems. You underestimate humanity.
The FBI has put out a warning list about COVID scams to watch out for. And it’s more than just miraculous cures. There isn’t a cure, by the way, in case you were wondering. We can’t cure the common cold, doubt we can cure COVID.
So, what are some of the things we should be wary about? Hold onto your hats. There’s a lot of stuff, showing people are just awful.
- Advertisements or offers for early access to a vaccine upon payment of a deposit or fee.
- Requests asking you to pay out of pocket to obtain the vaccine or to put your name on a COVID-19 vaccine waiting list.
- Offers to undergo additional medical testing or procedures when obtaining a vaccine.
- Marketers offering to sell and/or ship doses of a vaccine, domestically or internationally, in exchange for payment of a deposit or fee.
- Unsolicited e-mails, telephone calls, or personal contact from someone claiming to be from a medical office, insurance company, or COVID-19 vaccine center requesting personal and/or medical information to determine recipients’ eligibility to participate in clinical vaccine trials or obtain the vaccine.
- Claims of FDA approval for a vaccine that cannot be verified.
- Advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, e-mail, telephone calls, online, or from unsolicited/unknown sources.
- Individuals contacting you in person, by phone, or by e-mail to tell you the government or government officials require you to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
These all sound pretty easy to recognize as nonsense. I hope nobody would order a vaccine off Facebook or Twitter. And if somebody called me on the phone offering to sell me a vaccine, I wouldn’t be able to stop laughing. And would you really be able to administer the vaccine yourself? Approximately 99.9% of us can barely handle a shot from a trained professional. Let’s not even talk about doing it yourself or having a significant other, brother or sister do it.
How can you avoid being scammed? Glad you asked! According to the FBI:
- Consult your state’s health department website for up-to-date information about authorized vaccine distribution channels and only obtaining a vaccine through such channels.
- Check the FDA’s website (fda.gov) for current information about vaccine emergency use authorizations.
- Consult your primary care physician before undergoing any vaccination.
- Check your medical bills and insurance explanation of benefits (EOBs) for any suspicious claims and promptly reporting any errors to your health insurance provider.
- Follow guidance and recommendations from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and other trusted medical professionals.
Out of all that, the one you really need to follow is consulting with your main doctor if you have any doubts about how you might react to any kind of vaccination. They can look at your history and tell you if you might have a bad reaction to a vaccine.
If you’re the type who does everything online, here are some things you need to look out for as you’re traversing the web.
- Verify the spelling of web addresses, websites, and e-mail addresses that look trustworthy but may be imitations of legitimate websites.
- Ensure operating systems and applications are updated to the most current versions.
- Update anti-malware and anti-virus software and conduct regular network scans.
- Do not enable macros on documents
- downloaded from an e-mail unless necessary and after ensuring the file is not malicious.
- Never provide personal information of any sort via e-mail; be aware that many e-mails requesting your personal information may appear to be legitimate.
- Use strong two-factor authentication if possible, using biometrics, hardware tokens, or authentication apps.
If you do use the internet on a regular basis, you know what all that means. If you don’t, no amount of explaining would help.
You can get the vaccine or you cannot. There’s nothing in place to make you take it. I’ve been vaccinated myself as it makes a lot of sense in the job I have now, but your world might not be as “exposed” as mine is now.
Still, I’d like to see most of us get it, for selfish reasons. I want things back to normal. I want to go places without wearing a mask. Maybe soon I’ll be able to.