As the COVID-19 vaccine distribution begins, the Harrison County Sheriff’s Office is sharing a warning from the FBI to be wary of potential vaccine-related scams.

“Protect yourself; avoid COVID-19 vaccine scams,” the FBI warns.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General issued a fraud alert recently, alerting the public about fraud schemes related to the virus. The HHS noted that scammers are using telemarketing calls, text messages, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits to carry out the scams.

“Fraudsters are offering COVID-19 tests, HHS grants, and Medicare prescription cards in exchange for personal details, including Medicare information,” the HHS stated in its alert. “However, these services are unapproved and illegitimate.

“These scammers use the coronavirus pandemic to benefit themselves, and beneficiaries face potential harm,” the HHS said.”The personal information collected can be used to fraudulently bill federal health care programs and commit medical identity theft.”

The Harrison County Sheriff’s Office shared a list of tips compiled by the HHS, Federal Bureau of Investigation and Department of Justice to help avoid vaccine scams.

The tips or signs of potential scams to look out for related to the novel coronavirus include:

  • You are asked to pay out of pocket to get the vaccine;
  • You are asked to pay to put your name on a vaccine waiting list or to get early access;
  • Advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online, or from unsolicited/unknown sources;
  • And marketers offering to sell or ship doses of the vaccine for payment.

“Protect yourself. Do not give out our personal information to unknown sources,” the FBI warns.

Those who believe they have been a victim of COVID-19 fraud are urged to immediately report the potential fraud to the HHS-OIG hotline at 1-800-HHS-TIPS or visit tips.hhs.gov; or call the FBI hotline at 1-800-CALL-FBI or visit ic3.gov; or call the CMS/Medicare Hotline at 1-800-MEDICARE.

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