HOUSTON - Now that anyone over 16-years-old can get a COVID-19 vaccine in Texas, scammers are rolling up their sleeves, too.
The FBI, the Department of Health and Human Services, and the Better Business Bureau are warning you about fraudulent vaccine schemes that are ripping people off through calls, text messages, emails, social media, even door-to-door.
A scam text popped up on my phone, reading, "Please submit a new COVID Dose 1 appointment request," but never identified which agency or hospital sent it. Don't fall for it.
"We're seeing vague text messages and phone calls. The biggest thing to watch out for is know where you registered at," said Jennifer Salazar with the Better Business Bureau.
The BBB says scammers are offering to sell you the vaccine, medical testing to get the shot, or move you up on the wait list. But investigators say they're really stealing people's medical insurance and financial information when they respond.
"It's not like going to a nice restaurant and giving the maitre d' an extra $50 to get seated early. That doen'st exist with this," said Salazar.
And she's warning you not to fall for scams selling the white, CDC vaccination cards, or to post pictures of your card on social media.
The FBI says scammers are also sending emails pretending to be surveys for vaccine companies or the government. The BBB says the only legitimate survey of your side effects is the CDC's V-safe Vaccination Health Checker.
"They're not gonig to ask for your insurance information. They're not going to ask for your social. They're not going to ask for your Medicare number," said Salazar.
Here are tips to protect yourself:
- Don't click on any links in emails or texts if you don't know where message is from. And don't give out personal, medical, or financial information to unsolicited emails, calls or visitors.
- You can use Vaccine Finder, a free CDC website to find vaccine sites, so that you're finding them, they're not finding you.
- If you suspect COVID-19 health care fraud, report it online or call 800-HHS-TIPS (800-447-8477).