State officials are warning Hawaii residents to beware of numerous scams tied to the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines.
Scammers routinely prey on public fear to swindle money or personal information from their victims, according to the the state Office of Consumer Protection, and will exploit the pandemic for financial gain.
Some variations of these scams include requesting payment for early access or to be placed on a waiting list for the vaccine, or asking for a Social Security number or other personal financial information to sign up to receive the vaccine.
Medicare, insurance companies and reputable health care providers will not call people and ask for their Social Security number, credit card, or bank account information in order to sign up for the vaccine, consumer protection officials said.
The public should also beware of anyone offering products or treatments for sale online.
“People should avoid opening or responding to text messages and emails with hyperlinks about COVID-19 from unknown sources as it may lead to malware that can allow scammers to access private information through your electronic devices,” said Office of Consumer Protection Executive Director Stephen Levins in a news release. “The best practice is to simply ignore or hang up on anyone offering unsolicited services.”
Federal authorities continue to monitor and combat the production, sale, and distribution of counterfeit vaccines and treatments, OCP said, but consumers are advised to remain vigilant as scam attempts ramp up.
Consumers should also check directly with their health care providers first before exploring any COVID-19-related treatment.
The latest official information about the status of the COVID-19 vaccine in Hawaii is available at hawaiicovid19.com/vaccine. Report suspicious calls or scam attempts to the Office of Consumer Protection at 587-4272 and the Federal Trade Commission at ReportFraud.ftc.gov.