COVID-19 Vaccines Scams
With distribution of COVID-19 vaccines approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration underway, scammers are trying to capitalize on the rollout. Vaccination plans will vary across state and local governments. Check with your state or local health department to learn when and how to get the COVID-19 vaccine. You can also talk with your health care provider, pharmacist, or health insurance provider to learn more.
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is sharing these tips to avoid vaccine related-scams:
- Don't pay to sign up for the vaccine. Anyone who asks for a payment to put you on a list, make an appointment for you, or reserve a spot in line is a scammer.
- Ignore sales ads for the COVID-19 vaccine. You can't buy it – anywhere, including online pharmacies. The vaccine is only available at federal- and state-approved locations, such as vaccination centers and pharmacies.
- Watch for unexpected or unusual texts. Don't click on links in text messages – especially messages you didn't expect. 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.
- Don't open emails, attachments, or links from people you don't know, or that come unexpectedly. You could download dangerous malware onto your computer or phone.
- Don't share your personal, financial, or health information with people you don't know. No one from a vaccine distribution site, health care provider's office, pharmacy, health insurance company or Medicare, will call, text, or email you asking for your Social Security, credit card, or bank account number to sign you up to get the vaccine.
In short, you can't pay to skip the line, reserve your spot, or join a critical trial. Be wary of any inbound calls or texts that ask for your Social Security number, financial details, or insurance information to reserve your spot.
FCC Consumer Information
The FCC COVID-19 Consumer Guide has information about coronavirus scams and how you can avoid becoming a victim, along with helpful tips on cell phone hygiene and optimizing your home wireless network, and more.
IRS Criminal Investigation warns Tennessee taxpayers about new
wave of COVID-19 scams as second round of Economic Impact Payments are delivered
Date: January 15, 2021
Contact: Special Agent Meredith Louden
The Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Division (IRS-CI) is warning Tennessee taxpayers about a new wave of COVID-19-related scams as the agency
delivers the second round of Economic Impact Payments.
In the last several months, IRS-CI has seen a variety of Economic Impact Payment (EIP) scams and other financial schemes designed to steal money and personal
information from taxpayers. Criminals are taking advantage of the second round of Economic Impact Payments – as well as the approaching filing season – to trick honest taxpayers out of their hard-earned money.
“As this second round of Economic Impact Payments are being issued and as we approach tax filing season, I’d like to remind taxpayers to remain vigilant. Fraudsters
continue to exploit this pandemic to victimize the American public by seeking ways to gain access to taxpayer’s personal and financial information in an effort to line their own pockets,” said Special Agent in Charge Matthew D. Line.
Some common COVID-19 scams include:
Text messages asking taxpayers to disclose bank account information under the guise of receiving the $1,200 Economic Impact Payments.
Phishing schemes using email, letters and social media messages with key words such as “Coronavirus,” “COVID-19,” and “stimulus” in varying ways. These
communications are blasted to large numbers of people and aim to access personally identifying information and financial account information (including
account numbers and passwords).
The organized and unofficial sale of fake at-home COVID-19 test kits (as well as offers to sell fake cures, vaccines, pills, and professional medical advice
Fake donation requests for individuals, groups and areas heavily affected by the disease.
Bogus opportunities to invest in companies developing COVID-19 vaccines while promising that the “company” will dramatically increase in value as a result.
Although criminals are constantly changing their tactics, taxpayers can help protect themselves by acting as the first line of defense. The best way to avoid falling victim to a
scam is knowing how the IRS communicates with taxpayers. The IRS does not send unsolicited texts or emails. The IRS does not call people with threats of jail or lawsuits, nor does it demand tax payments on gift cards.
IRS-CI continues investigating hundreds of COVID-19-related cases with law enforcement agencies domestically and abroad and educating taxpayers about scams.
COVID-19 scams should be reported to the National Center for Disaster Fraud (NCDF) Hotline at 1-866-720-5721 or submitted through the NCDF Web Complaint Form. The
NCDF is a national coordinating agency within the Department of Justice’s Criminal Division dedicated to improving the detection, prevention, investigation and prosecution of criminal conduct related to natural and man-made disasters and other emergencies.
Taxpayers can also report fraud or theft of their Economic Impact Payments to the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA). Reports can be made
online at TIPS.TIGTA.GOV.
Taxpayers who receive unsolicited emails or social media attempts to gather
information that appear to be from either the IRS or an organization closely linked to the
IRS, should forward the message to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Taxpayers are encouraged not to engage potential scammers online or on the phone.
To learn more about COVID-19 scams and other financial schemes visit IRS.gov. Official IRS information about COVID-19 and Economic Impact Payments can be found on the Coronavirus Tax Relief page, which is updated frequently.