February 19, 2021

Vaccines and PPP: Beware of These COVID Scams

As the pandemic continues, COVID-19 scams continue to grow. Here are some of the latest ways fraudsters are targeting consumers and small business owners specific to vaccines and relief funding.

COVID-19 Vaccine Fraud

Are you anxiously awaiting access to a COVID-19 vaccine? Stop and think before listening to someone who contacts you about the vaccine.

There are several versions of vaccine-related scams circulating, including ones that ask for personally identifiable information (PII) in order to get on a call list to receive the vaccine. If someone contacts you asking for PII – like your Social Security number, mailing or email address, or bank account numbers – hang up right away. Do not share personal data or offer payment. If in doubt, contact your local health department directly.

If you aren’t sure where to find reliable vaccine information, start with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Vaccination Identity Theft

Receiving the COVID-19 vaccine is cause for celebration for many people. If you’re excited to share the news with friends and family, refrain from posting photos of your vaccination card on social media.

Vaccination cards include information like your full name, date of birth, where you got your vaccine, and the dates you received it – all details that put you at risk for identity theft. Criminals can take these details and use it to piece together the necessary information to open accounts in your name or claim your tax refund for themselves.

Instead of posting a photo of your vaccination card, the Federal Trade Commission recommends sharing photos of a bandage or vaccine sticker.

PPP Phishing Emails

Keep an eye out for COVID-19 themed phishing emails sent to small business owners. The most recent attempt is an impersonation of the Small Business Administration (SBA). This is a malicious attempt to lure business owners to apply for the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP).

In this example, the sender posed as the president of World Trade Finance and directed the recipient to click the embedded URL in the body of the email to fill out a registration form.

Remember, only open email and attachments from trusted sources.

Want to learn more about phishing? Our article Protect Your Finances From Phishing includes warning signs and 10 guidelines to help keep you safe.

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