Don't Fall for a COVID-19 Vaccine Scam
The Key Takeaways
You don’t need to pay to get a COVID-19 vaccine appointment. 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, says Colleen Tressler, senior project manager in the Federal Trade Commission’s consumer business and education office. Check with your state or local health department or ask your doctor or pharmacist how to get the COVID-19 vaccine where you live.
Getting a COVID-19 vaccine is always free. The vaccines are free whether or not you have health insurance, although your provider may charge your insurer an administration fee for giving the shot. If you have private insurance or Medicare, you will not owe a deductible, copayment, or coinsurance.
The only way you might incur a bill is if you get a vaccine as part of a doctor’s appointment. For example, you might owe a copay or coinsurance if you see your doctor for another reason—say, for a checkup or to treat an injury—and get a vaccine as part of the appointment.
While primary care doctors haven’t yet had wide access to vaccine supply, that is expected to change as part of the Biden administration’s plans to boost vaccine availability from trusted sources, especially in rural areas and communities of color.
You can’t buy a COVID-19 vaccine. Ignore ads for the vaccine that come via email and pop up online on Facebook or Twitter, and in Google search. The vaccine is available only at federal- and state-approved locations. If you already purchased one and used a credit card, you can dispute it with the credit card issuer. If you use a payment app such as Venmo or Zelle, or a debit card, there are no formal protections, so you’re unlikely to get your money back.
Never respond to requests for your personal financial information. No one from a vaccine distribution site, healthcare provider’s office, pharmacy, a private insurance company, or Medicare will call, text, or email you asking for your Social Security, credit card or bank account number in order to get the vaccine.
A host of federal agencies and state regulators are stepping up warnings about scams tied to the vaccines. The schemes include fraudsters offering early access to shots on fake registration websites and even delivery of vaccines via mail, for a price. They may come to you via social media posts, emails, text messages, online ads, and robocalls.