COVID-19 Fraud & Scams

Unfortunately, scammers are hard at work attempting to scam you during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are using all forms of contact - telephone, postal mail, email, text messaging and in person - to take advantage of the unsuspecting for financial gain and access to personal or insurance information. 

Vaccine and Vaccination Card Scams

COVID-19 Vaccine


COVID-19 Vaccine

An individual claiming to be a medical professional offers to schedule you to receive the COVID-19 vaccine for a fee. The offer may happen via a phone call, social media or in person at a pop-up vaccination location. The person will require your Medicare, Social Security Number or health insurance information, in addition to a form of payment to provide you with instructions on where to go to receive the vaccine. The vaccination they are offering may not be approved by the FDA to prevent COVID-19 or they may be scheduling you for an appointment at a vaccination location that does not exist. 

Consumer Tips:
  • Only accept vaccinations from verified licensed medical professionals such as your doctor, pharmacy or the Florida Department of Health. If you have any questions regarding COVID-19 vaccinations or medications being offered, please contact:

 Florida Department of Health 24/7 COVID-19 Call Center: 1-866-779-6121

  • No matter what anyone tells you, you cannot buy COVID-19 vaccines and there’s no out-of-pocket cost to schedule or receive the vaccine. If someone is demanding payment, they are not a part of the Florida Department of Health or any other official organization. The vaccine is only available at federal- and state-approved locations.
  • Ignore online ads, social media posts, or phone calls from people offering to sell you the COVID-19 vaccine.
  • Do not give out your personal information or verify details of your insurance coverage to any unsolicited callers or anyone that approaches you in person.

Vaccination Card


Fake Vaccination Card Scam

You receive a phone call or see an ad online offering vaccination cards and negative COVID-19 test results for sale. The individual selling the fake vaccination card and test results will ask for your personal information and payment information in order to complete the transaction. This information may include any of the following: your full name, Social Security Number, health insurance information, credit card information and bank account information.

Scammers are using the pandemic as an opportunity to profit and to gain access to your personal information for identity theft purposes. 

Consumer Tips:
  • Be aware that purchasing fake vaccination cards, making your own or filling in the blanks of any vaccination information with false information is illegal and you could be fined or face other legal action. The only legitimate way to show proof of your vaccination status is to get vaccinated and maintain the vaccination card issued to you by the state-approved vaccine facility. 
  • Do not share or confirm your personal, insurance or financial information, including bank account and credit card numbers, with anyone who contacts you. 
  • To report fake vaccination cards contact:
    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General

    1-800-HHS-TIPS
    www.OIG.HHS.gov

      The FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center

      Vaccination Status on Florida Driver License


      Text Message COVID-19 Driver's License Scam Example

      Example of Fraudulent Text Message

      You receive a text message requesting you to verify your driver license details in order for your vaccination status to be added to your license. The text message provides a link that sends targets to a spoofed Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) website with input boxes requesting Social Security and driver license information—including a place to upload a photocopy of a driver license. The spoofed webpage is not an official state agency site even though the scammers added the FLHSMV logo and the Florida Department of Health logo at the top to trick consumers into sharing their personal information. 

      If you click on the link in the fraudulent text message and enter your personal information, scammers can then use your identity to open financial accounts without your knowledge. 

      Consumer Tips:
      • The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles does not interact with consumers through text messages and will never send a text message regarding the status of a driver license, personal details or medical information, including COVID-19 vaccination status.
      • Do not share or confirm your personal, insurance or financial information, including bank account and credit card numbers, with anyone who contacts you through text messaging. 
      • Do not click on links in a text message or email you receive from an unknown sender. Clicking on these links may bring you to a fraudulent website trying to obtain your personal, financial or insurance information. Clicking on unknown links can also download malware onto your device.
      • Do not trust the caller ID. While the name and number may appear to be that of a legitimate state agency or organization, it may be a scam artist attempting to obtain your personal information.
      • Report suspicious solicitations or COVID-19 vaccine-related advertisements:

        Florida Attorney General’s Office


        PROTECT YOUR IDENTITY:
        Do not share pictures of your vaccination card on social media. Posting content that includes your date of birth, health care details or other personally identifiable information can be used to steal your identity.

         


          COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card

          If you lose your vaccination card or need to request your COVID-19 vaccination record:

          • Contact the medical provider or the vaccination location that administered your vaccine to find out if they are able to provide replacement proof of vaccination.

          • Florida has a free, statewide online immunization system that all medical providers providing vaccinations use called Florida SHOTS.

            • Ask your healthcare provider. All providers administering vaccinations have access to Florida SHOTS and can generate your vaccination history from your records.

            • Ask your local county health department. If you do not have a healthcare provider, your local county health department can access your vaccination history through Florida Shots.


            County Health Departments - Location Finder Resource

            Florida Department of Health 24/7 COVID-19 Call Center: 1-866-779-6121

          Note: This form is for use only by individuals aged 18 years and over to request their own COVID-19 vaccination record. DO NOT use this form to request records for another individual. Each individual is responsible for their own request. Currently, records of minors (aged 17 years and below) are not available through this request portal. Please contact your healthcare provider or local county health department to request records for a minor.

          Contact Tracing Scams

          What is contact tracing?

          Contact tracing is a vital tool used in slowing the spread of COVID-19 to protect you, your family and your community. When an individual tests positive for COVID-19, contact tracing is the process of identifying everyone the individual has come in contact with to advise those individuals of their possible exposure. 

          For more information on contact tracing, including a list of official phone numbers used for contact tracing in Florida, please visit the Florida Department of Health COVID-19 Response site or refer to their COVID-19 Contact Tracing Fact Sheet

          Review the consumer tips below to ensure you will be able to spot a contact tracing scam.

          Legitimate Contact Tracers Will Not Ask For Money

          Legitimate contact tracers will not ask you for money. 

          Contact tracing does not require any form of payment. If someone is demanding payment through a money transfer, gift card or cryptocurrency, they are not a part of the Florida Department of Health or any other official organization.

          Legitimate Contact Tracers Will Not Ask For Credit Cards

          Contact tracing does not require your bank account or credit card information. 

          Do not share or confirm your personal or financial information, including bank account and credit card numbers, with anyone who contacts you. Contact tracing is a core public health function available at no charge.

          Legitimate Contact Tracers Will Not Ask For Your Social Security Number

          Legitimate contact tracers will never ask for your Social Security number. 

          You will not need to share your Social Security number in the contact tracing process. Immediately cease any communication with anyone claiming to be a contact tracer that is demanding your Social Security number. 

          Legitimate Contact Tracers Will Not Inquire About Immigration Status

          Immigration status is not a part of contact tracing. 

          Legitimate contact tracers will not inquire about your immigration status or request any documentation associated with it. 

          Do Not Click On Links in Emails or Text Messages

          Do not click on a link in a text message or email. 

          Scammers are including links in fraudulent text messages and emails. Clicking on these links may download malware onto your device or put you at risk for a scammer to gain your personal, financial or insurance information. 

          To report fake contact tracers:

          COVID-19 Scams

          Additional COVID-19 Scams

           

          COVID-19 Clinical Trials 


          There are thousands of trials underway as companies race to find effective vaccines and treatments for COVID-19 and emerging variants of the virus. Many of these research studies are legitimate, but some are not.

          If you are considering volunteering for a COVID-19 trial or having your child included in a pediatric COVID-19 trial, it’s important to know how to determine legitimate clinical trials, versus fraudulent clinical trials attempting to steal your money and personal information. Refer to the Federal Trade Commission’s guidance on COVID-19 clinical trials to ensure you know the difference:

          COVID-19 Clinical Trial: Real or Fake? Learn How to Tell The Difference
          FTC Article -  COVID-19 Clinical Trial: Real or Fake?

          COVID-19 Vaccine Survey


          A person contacts you through email or text message requesting you complete a limited-time survey about a COVID-19 vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, etc.). In exchange, you are offered a free reward but asked to pay for shipping fees before it is sent to you. 
          Consumer Tips:
          • No legitimate survey will ask you to pay for a "free" reward or request your credit card or bank account information. Never give out your personal, financial or health insurance information to anyone who contacts you out of the blue. 
          • Do not click on any links or open any attachments. Doing so could potentially install harmful malware onto your device or steal your personal information without your knowledge. 
          • Do not call or text any phone numbers in the email or text message. If you would like to call the company, research a phone number for the entity online.
          • If you get an email or text message requesting your personal or financial information and you think it could be a scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission: ReportFraud.FTC.gov
          Examples of Covid-19 Vaccine Survey Text Messages and Emails
          EXAMPLES OF POSSIBLE COVID-19 VACCINE SURVEY EMAILS AND TEXT MESSAGES

          To learn more about recognizing and reporting spam text messages, refer to the FTC's guidance here: 
          How to Recognize and Report Spam Text Messages

          COVID-19 Rapid Testing Kit

          Free COVID-19 Testing Kit


          A person contacts you to offer a free COVID-19 test. You may be asked to provide your Medicare or Social Security Number or health insurance information to process the request. The test may not be approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) or may not be accurate or you may never receive the kit.
          Consumer Tips:
          • Do not give out your personal information or verify details of your insurance coverage to any unsolicited callers or anyone that approaches you in person.
          • Contact your doctor, health insurance company or the Florida Health Department for information on COVID-19 testing procedures and locations in your area.

          Florida Department of Health 24/7 COVID-19 Call Center: 1-866-779-6121

          Protective Face Masks

          Free Face or Respiratory Masks


          Someone offers you free face or respiratory masks to prevent or recover from COVID-19. The person may request your Medicare or Social Security Number or insurance information in order to provide the masks. The masks may not be approved to prevent or treat COVID-19 or you may never receive the masks.
          Consumer Tips:
          • Do not give out your personal information or verify details of your insurance coverage to any unsolicited callers or anyone that approaches you in person.
          • Contact your local county Florida Health Department to inquire if there are any free face masks available in your area.

          County Health Departments - Location Finder Resource

          Florida Department of Health 24/7 COVID-19 Call Center: 1-866-779-6121

          Fake Charity


          Fake Covid Charity Call
          A charity solicits donations to assist those impacted by COVID-19. Your personal financial information will be requested and possibly used to make fraudulent purchases. 
          Consumer Tips:
          • To determine if a charity is legitimate, refer to the Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services' Check-A-Charity resource that lists all charities currently registered with the State of Florida. 

          Check-A-Charity Resource
          www.FDACS.gov/ConsumerServices
          1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352)

          • For charity solicitations for an individual or family, do preliminary research to decide if you feel comfortable donating. For example, for fundraisers on GoFundMe, the company offers guidelines and helpful questions to ask to determine a fundraiser’s legitimacy. GoFundMe also offers a method to report a fraudulent fundraiser on their site. 

          GoFundMe: How to Determine if a Fundraiser is Legitimate

          • Do not trust the caller ID. While the name and number may appear to be that of a charity, it may be a scam artist attempting to obtain your personal information.

          Low-price Health Insurance


          Low-Price Health Insurance Online Ad Example
          A person claiming to be an insurance agent or company representative contacts you unsolicited via phone, email or social media with an offer of low-price insurance coverage. The scammer may even place advertisements online. The price is typically too-good-to-be-true. You may be required to make a payment immediately and advised that the coverage will become effective instantly. The coverage will not be legitimate, which you may not determine until you attempt to obtain medical services or a claim is filed.
          Consumer Tips:
          • Only purchase and make changes to your insurance policy through a licensed insurance agent or your insurance company directly. Verify identity before making any payments or providing personal information. 
          • Be sure that your insurance company or agent is licensed to do business in Florida.

          To Verify an Insurance Company License:

          Office of Insurance Regulation
          Active Company Search
          www.FLOIR.com/CompanySearch

          To Verify an Insurance Agent License:
          Florida Department of Financial Services
          Division of Insurance Agent and Agency Services 
          www.MyFloridaCFO.com/Division/Agents
          850.413.3137
          • Be leery of unsolicited calls. Companies should not call you unsolicited requesting personal information or ask you to verify details of your insurance coverage. 
          • Do not give out your personal information or verify details of your insurance coverage to any unsolicited callers or anyone that approaches you in person.

           

          Federal Trade Commission COVID-19 Fraud Data

          COVID-19 Resources

          Florida Department of Health: COVID-19 Response Logo

          Florida Department of Health

          Federal Trade Commission Logo: Protecting America's Consumers

          Federal Trade Commission


          Contact the Office of the Insurance Consumer Advocate


          Office of the Insurance Consumer Advocate
          200 East Gaines Street, Tallahassee, FL 32399
          Phone: (850) 413-5923
          Email: YourFLVoice@MyFloridaCFO.com


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