COVID-19 vaccine scams you need to watch out for

Posted at 7:11 AM, Mar 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-05 07:44:40-05

HILLSBOROUGH COUNTY, Fla. — As part of Consumer Protection Week, Hillsborough County officials want to let the community know about how scammers are preying on the public right now.

“With any sort of disaster there’s going to be people out there who want to try to take advantage of other people,” said Eric Olsen, Manager of Consumer Protect Services for Hillsborough County.

Many of them are trying to take advantage of people looking to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

Olsen says that if you get calls claiming you have to pay to register for the vaccine, that’s a red flag.

If someone suggests that you can jump ahead in line for a vaccine by paying extra, that’s fraud.

“When you’re the one making the call, when you’re making the effort, that’s a safer route. When other people are trying to call, email, text, saying that there’s some special deal, the old saying of if it’s too good to be true it probably is,” said Olsen.

Another scam consumer experts are seeing in the community right now is imposter schemes.

“Someone is calling attempting to pretend that they are a government employee or someone who has authority when they really don’t,” said Olsen.

They try to contact people by phone, text, or email trying to convince them they’re someone with authority.

“They might even try to scare people by saying that they could arrest them if they don’t comply with whatever they’re asking,” said Olsen.

Experts say anytime you get a call or a message from someone asking for your information, just ignore it and verify it on your own.

“If someone calls saying they’re from the fraud department at your bank, and there’s a fraud, there may be, but you want to hang up on that person, politely say thank you I’ll check into that, then contact your bank on your credit card through the telephone number or your bank’s website,” said Olsen.