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Avoiding COVID-19 vaccine passport scams

Posted at 3:27 PM, May 11, 2021
and last updated 2021-05-11 19:25:16-04

TULSA, Okla. — Scammers targeted victims with everything from fake masks to COVID-19 grants to funeral payments.

Now, they're focusing on vaccine passports. Most of these scams are set up to look like they're coming from the U.S. government.

Sylvia, a grandmother who fell for the scam, received a call saying now that she'd been vaccinated, she must take a mandatory online COVID-19 test to make sure the vaccine is working in order to get a vaccine passport.

"We're planning to travel across country to see our grandchildren for the first time in more than a year," Sylvia said. "So, I wanted to make sure we do everything we're required to do in order to travel."

The scammer told Sylvia the test cost $25. So, she gave the scammer her checking account number to pay for two tests for her and her husband. Instead of taking $50 out of the account, the scammer took $500. The bank closed Sylvia's account when she reported the incident.

Other variations include texts or emails including links to a testing website, phishing for your personal and financial information.

It's important to remember there is no mandatory testing after vaccination. Tests can't be done online without a sample, and there are no required vaccine passports. So don't respond to any unsolicited emails or texts and hang up on anyone calling about COVID-19 testing.

How to spot a COVID-19 scam:

  • Government agencies usually don't communicate through text messages
  • Go to the agency's website yourself, without clicking on a link, to verify any information you receive via text or email.
  • Ignore instructions to text "STOP" or "NO" to prevent future texts, and don't hit unsubscribe to stop emails. That is a common ploy by scammers to confirm they have an actual, active number.
  • Also, check for look-alikes

Be sure to do research and see if a government agency or organization mentioned in a text or email exists. Find contact information and call to see if what you've been told is legitimate.

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