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COVID-19 vaccine scams: Here's what to look out for

Federal officials have some tips to avoid getting scammed.

The latest COVID-related scam is related to the vaccine, and the FBI has issued an alert to help people spot the signs of a potential scam. 

Distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine is underway across the country, but the average Minnesotan won't have access to the vaccine until well into 2021 as the state is prioritizing health care workers and others most at risk to receive the vaccines first. 

The FBI on Dec. 21 said it and other federal agencies have received complaints of scammers attempting to obtain personal information and money under the guise of the COVID-19 vaccine. 

Here are a few indicators that you're dealing with a scam: 

  • Advertisements or offers for early access to a vaccine 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 in exchange for money
  • Unsolicited emails, 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 your eligibility to participate in clinical vaccine trials or to get the vaccine
  • Claims of FDA approval for a vaccine that cannot be verified
  • Advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online, or from unsolicited/unknown sources
  • Individuals contacting you in person, by phone, or by email to tell you the government or government officials require you to receive a COVID-19 vaccine

To avoid fraud, the FBI says don't give your personal information to unknown sources and consult the Minnesota Department of Health's website for up-to-date information about the authorized vaccine distribution channels. 

You can find other general online/cyber fraud prevention tips online here

If you think you've been the victim of COVID-19 fraud, report it to the FBI here or by calling 1-800-CALL-FBI.

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