AUSTIN, Texas — By the end of the week, almost a quarter of a million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine will be in hospitals across Texas.
As more people start looking for ways to get vaccinated, experts are warning about scammers who could take advantage.
Frontline medical workers in Texas are making history this week while getting the first available doses of Pfizer’s COVID-19 vaccine. In Austin, the first health care workers received a shot on Dec. 15.
State officials still haven’t decided which groups will be next in line to get the shot, but experts are warning we could start seeing scams any day.
“This vaccine is news,” said Better Business Bureau (BBB) Senior Regional Director Heather Massey. “So scammers, unfortunately, do take advantage of this.”
The BBB joins federal officials in preparing for a wave of new scams related to the vaccine.
An FBI spokesperson told KVUE the bureau has seen people selling fake COVID-19 tests and unapproved treatments.
“Before the COVID vaccine, Texans were victimized by COVID-related scams, including treatments promising a cure,” San Antonio FBI Public Affairs Officer Michelle Lee said in a statement. “With the approval of the vaccine, we have no reason to believe that Texans will not be targeted with new fraud schemes promising early delivery of the vaccine.”
And the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement is working to stop the sale of unapproved COVID-19 products and drugs.
Meanwhile, the Federal Trade Commission and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration have already sent warning letters to seven companies, which were allegedly selling products with “deceptive or scientifically unsupported claims about their ability to treat coronavirus.”
“They're going to prey on the fact that people don't know enough about the vaccine or where to get it,” Massey said. “And there's also a sense of urgency to protect ourselves for most people.”
Here are four tips from the BBB to help you spot a COVID-19 vaccine scam: Research carefully, check with your doctor, ignore calls for immediate action and double-check the link before opening it.
And Massey said you should warn people you know if you see a scam like this.
“Pass along information about what scammers are doing to your friends, your family and your loved ones so they can be on the lookout,” Massey said.
A spokesperson for the Texas Office of the Attorney General said they haven’t received any complaints about scams related to a COVID-19 vaccine yet.
But if you think you see one, make sure you report it to the Texas Attorney General’s Office. You can do that by clicking here.
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