A smart phone with a digital illustration of an example of a certificate of vaccination against the Covid-19 disease is arranged on a passport. Travel concept during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Flat lay with copy space, a smart phone with a digital illustration of an example of a certificate of vaccination against the Covid-19 disease is arranged on a passport. Travel concept during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Vaccine passports – digital records of an individual’s COVID-19 vaccination status – are on their way. This is likely to be a QR code on your phone, which you scan to enter a flight or event. As with any major new initiative, scammers always find ways to take advantage of the confusion and anxiety surrounding the change. Be on the lookout for vaccine passport cons.

Vaccine passport apps are rolling out

In the United States, a group of companies is working on a passport app, which could be used for travel and attending large events. The Canadian government recently announced they are “actively exploring” the concept of vaccine passports for international travel.

In fact, vaccine passport apps are already in use some places. Right now, on certain flights to Hawaii, passengers can use an app to show they meet Hawaii’s negative COVID-19 test requirement. New York State launched Excelsior Pass, an app that pulls from the state’s COVID-19 vaccine registry to confirm vaccination status. Internationally, Israel has rolled out an app to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19.

Tips to avoid vaccine passport cons:

The companies developing the passport apps hope the technology will allow industries – such as travel and events – to return to normal, while minimizing the spread of COVID-19.

However, scams are very likely to pop up as the apps roll out. Here’s what to watch out for:

Be skeptical of any vaccine passport app that claims to be from the U.S. federal government. Right now, the U.S. federal government has no plans to create a national vaccine passport. Email, calls, text messages that claim the government is requiring such a passport are likely scams.

Flying or attending an event? Check with the company directly. You may need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or vaccine to attend an event or board a flight. As with all things related to COVID-19, policies are frequently changing. Be sure to check with your your airline, sports team, event venue etc. beforehand to get the latest details.

Don’t buy fraudulent vaccine cards. Don’t support scammers and undermine the vaccine effort by buying a black market vaccine card. Misrepresenting yourself as vaccinated means you put yourself and others around you at risk of contracting COVID-19.

Research carefully. If you receive an invitation to download a COVID-19 vaccine passport app, be sure to do your research before entering your personal information. Scammers are very creative, so be skeptical of anything that seems too good – or crazy – to be true. Double check any information against official news sources and company websites.

Guard your government-issued numbers. Never offer your Medicare ID number, Social Security number, health plan information, or banking information to anyone you don’t know or trust. Don’t post your vaccine card on social media.

Think the link may be real? Double check the URL. Scammers often buy official-looking URL domains to use in their cons. Be careful to ensure that the link destination is really what it claims to be. If the message claims to be from the government, make sure the URL ends in .gov (for the United States) or .ca (for Canada). When in doubt, perform a separate internet search for the website or call the source directly.

For more information

Read more about coronavirus scams on the Federal Trade Commission’s website and on BBB.org/coronavirus. Learn more about the disease at the CDC’s FAQ page.

BBB has identified many ways in which scammers are cashing in on the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about fake vaccine surveys, vaccine scams, contact tracing cons, and government agency imposters.

If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker. Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams. Find more information about scams and how to avoid them at BBB.org/AvoidScams.

Sign up for BBB Scam Alerts to receive weekly notices of emerging scams to avoid.

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