Text messages alerts for the COVID-19 vaccine are making it easier than ever to find out availability in your area. In fact, according to the Health and Human Services (HHS) Administration, “…anyone can now text their ZIP code to GETVAX (438829) in English, or VACUNA (822862) in Spanish, to get the contact information of three locations near them with available vaccines.”
But, with such convenience it’s important to be aware of bad actors trying to capitalize on the rollout of COVID vaccines. Here are some tips to can follow to avoid COVID-19 scams:
- Do not respond to calls or texts from unknown numbers: Thanks to SHAKEN/STIR, many wireless providers now label suspected malicious messages as “spam,” but it’s important to consider each message that comes to determine its authenticity and intent.
- Never share your personal information via text: If a provider or vaccine location is asking for personal information, look up the number directly and provide the information over the phone rather than via text.
- Do not click any links in text messages: If your health care provider or pharmacist has used text messages to contact you in the past, you might get a text from them about the vaccine. If you get a text, call your health care provider or pharmacist directly to make sure they sent the text. Scammers are texting, too.
- Beware of “free rewards” and other incentives: People have reported getting emails and text messages asking them to complete a limited-time survey about the Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca vaccine in exchange for a “free reward,” for which they’re asked to pay shipping fees. Do NOT respond to any such message and don’t click any links. This is a scam. There’s no survey and no reward.
If you suspect you are a victim of COVID-19 Text Scam, you can file coronavirus scam complaints online with the Federal Trade Commission.