Good news has arrived with the emergency use authorization for vaccines against COVID-19.
However, federal agencies warn that scammers are already trying to exploit the public's fervor for protection from the coronavirus.
On Monday, Dec. 21, the FBI issued a statement on "fraud schemes" that may be used to swindle people out of their money, including the false promise of a COVID-19 vaccination for cash.
The FBI advises Americans to be on the lookout for these "potential indicators of fraudulent activity":
• Advertisements or offers for early access to a vaccine upon payment of a deposit or fee.
• Requests asking you to pay out of pocket to obtain the vaccine or to put your name on a COVID-19 vaccine waiting list.
• Offers to undergo additional medical testing or procedures when obtaining a vaccine.
• Marketers offering to sell and/or ship doses of a vaccine, domestically or internationally, in exchange for payment of a deposit or fee.
• Unsolicited emails, telephone calls or personal contact from someone claiming to be from a medical office, insurance company or COVID-19 vaccine center requesting personal and/or medical information to determine recipients' eligibility to participate in clinical vaccine trials or obtain the vaccine.
• Claims of FDA approval for a vaccine that cannot be verified.
• Advertisements for vaccines through social media platforms, email, telephone calls, online or from unsolicited/unknown sources.
• Individuals contacting you in person, by phone or by email to tell you the government or government officials require you to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.
Both Moderna and Pfizer have produced vaccines effective against COVID-19, according to large-scale human trials. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has signed off on both on an "emergency" basis due to the ongoing pandemic, allowing widespread vaccinations to begin.
Frontline healthcare workers and senior care facility residents will be the first to be vaccinated in Oregon. Vaccinations for the general public aren't expected to be available before spring 2021 at the earliest.
Oregonians are also advised to consult with their primary care physician before receiving any vaccination and to follow the guidance of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
If you believe you have been the victim of a COVID-19 fraud, report it to the FBI at 1-800-225-5324 (or 1-800-CALL-FBI) or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-447-8477 (HHS-TIPS).
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