WARNING: How to spot a COVID-19 vaccine scam

Published: Dec. 8, 2020 at 3:13 PM CST|Updated: Dec. 8, 2020 at 4:49 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - As more drug companies announce news of a COVID-19 vaccine, government officials want to make sure you don’t fall victim to scammers offering a fake vaccine.

Throughout the pandemic, scammers have been trying to cash in on COVID-19 related products.

“We’ve seen people selling preventative materials. We’ve had employment scams asking for contact tracers,” said Susan Bach, the Northeast Wisconsin Regional Director for the Better Business Bureau.

According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), it has already sent warning letters to certain companies selling fake COVID-19 products like teas and essential oils.

Now government officials believe scammers trying to sell fake COVID-19 vaccines could be next.

“We’ve already received one report, but we know as well that multiple government agencies are working on this problem. They fully expect that there will be people selling counterfeit vaccines or creating websites promising people that they have vaccines and we know all of those to be false,” said Bach.

Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services made it clear that the vaccines, once approved, will be handled by health care providers.

“Please don’t take a call or respond to something that says, ‘I can mail you one quickly’, that is not how it is going to go,” said Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk.

“Companies with vaccines are not going to proactively call you, it’s just not going to happen,” said Bach. “There’s gonna be a big demand for them ‚but you’re not going to be able to call up a company and order a vaccine. They are going to be carefully monitored so any company or phone call that tells you otherwise really is just a scammer.”

A scammer after your money, that could also impact your health.

“Especially if it’s a counterfeit vaccine that hasn’t been authorized or approved by the FDA, it could in fact be dangerous for you,” said Bach.

When it comes to the actual vaccine, it shouldn’t cost you a dime. Willems Van Dijk said if you have insurance, they will be billed for the administration of the vaccine, but the vaccine itself is free.

“The vaccine itself is purchased by the federal government and given to states free of charge,” said Willems Van Dijk.

If someone is asking for your money, Bach said it’s a scam.

“Somebody’s asking you to pay out of pocket especially a high amount should be taken with a big dose of skepticism,” said Bach. “Scammers have no conscience, no heart. They don’t care about taking your last dollar from you. They’re just trying to take what’s in the news and try and profit from it, unfortunately.”

Bach said if you get a phone call, email or test message about anything related to COVID-19, you should check with other reliable news sources and your doctor. If a website is given to you, make sure it is legitimate. She said any government website should end in ‘.gov’.

You can report a COVID-19 vaccine scam by CLICKING HERE, or by filing a complaint with your state or territorial attorney general by CLCIKING HERE.

You can read the FTC’s full blog post on COVID-19 vaccine scammers by CLICKING HERE.

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