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How to avoid COVID-19 vaccine scams

Scammers are targeting people desperate to get their COVID-19 vaccine, and one Bonita Springs woman who was almost preyed upon has tips for you to keep your guard up.

As people await their opportunity to get the COVID-19 vaccine, many people are vulnerable, especially our senior citizen population, which opens up the door for scammers. Mary Copeland almost fell for a scam. She’s signed up through the state to receive the vaccine, but she knew something was off when she received a call from a man stating he was with CVS.

He said he got her information through her social security number, and asked if she received a COVID-19 packet. That was her first red flag: You’re not going to receive a COVID-19 vaccine packet.

Copeland hopes she can set an example, so others don’t fall for scams.

“Ask for a name, phone number,” Copeland said. “And when you hear COVID-19 [vaccine] being sent to your home, that’s not going to happen. It’s done in a pharmacy, or even at a doctor’s office. It just is not going to happen. It needs to be refrigerated. And giving out your personal information? Don’t do it.”

Here are the signs you need to look out for:

  • If you’re asked to pay out of pocket—remember the vaccine is free
  • If you’re asked to pay to put your name on a vaccine waiting list—registration is also free
  • Ads through text messages, emails, phone calls or social media offering immediate opportunities for vaccinations
  • Marketers offering to ship or sell the vaccine dose for payment

“Now, there are people out there who are going to try and take advantage of us seniors,” Copeland said. “And I’m saying to you, verify it. Say to them, ‘Give me a number. Let me verify this. And then we’ll see what happens.’ And that’s the advice I would give anyone.”

If you believe you have been a victim of COVID-19 fraud, call the Florida Attorney General’s Fraud Hotline at 1-866-966-7226.

Reporter:Nicole Gabe
Writer:Joey Pellegrino
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