New year, new scam.
As COVID-19 vaccines roll out, scammers are on the prowl looking to take advantage of those eager to get the shot.
"People are not sure if they should be contacting somebody to get the vaccine or if they should be receiving a phone call from somebody," said Oana Schneider, director of media services for the Better Business Bureau serving Evansville and the Tri-State.
Each state already has a distribution plan, so she said any offers to receive the vaccine sooner are a red flag.
"We actually got an email from someone saying that they received an offer saying that if they just paid only $500, they would be put at the top of the list to get the COVID vaccine and they wanted to know if this was real or not."
Her advice: don't fall for it.
"Because people are scared and scammers know this," Schneider said. "They are trying to bank on your sense of urgency to find out what your condition is, what you need to be doing, what things you need to be addressing and so on."
Some of the biggest scams right now involves wait lists so there are a few important things to keep in mind:
• You likely will not need to pay anything out-of-pocket to get the vaccine, so ignore all emails and texts suggesting you could have access to premium treatment/vaccines in exchange for a fee.
• You cannot pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine.
• You cannot pay to get early access to the vaccine.
• You will not be solicited door to door to receive the vaccine.
• No one from the CDC, Medicare or the Health Department will contact you.
• No one from a vaccine distribution site or health care payer, like a private insurance company, will call you asking for your Medicare number, Social Security number or your credit card or bank account information to sign you up to get the vaccine.
"If you have any kind of questions abut the vaccine, how to get it, when to get it and so on, the best way to turn to is your doctor's office," Schneider said. "Call them and get your information from there instead of the websites that you find online and things like that."
Schneider expects the scams to increase as more vaccines become available, but she said taking five minutes to do some extra research can prevent you from taking the bait.
"I know just sending somebody to a third party to get more information can be a little dautning," she said. "But it's either that or you lose a lot of money."