No, you don’t have to pay for a COVID-19 vaccine

Con artists use fake websites, emails, robocalls to try to steal money, information

SAN ANTONIO – As more people get their COVID-19 vaccines, con artists are taking their best shot and trying to trick people out of money and sensitive information.

A fake website that was recently shut down looked very similar to Moderna’s website. The creators were arrested and accused of trying to sell the vaccine for $30 a dose.

“Scammers are feeding off the frenzy of people trying to get a vaccine by offering fake promises of early access to shots and are targeting people by social media posts, emails, texts, online ads and robocalls,” said Consumer Reports’ Donna Rosato.

So, here’s what to know and watch out for: You don’t have to pay for the vaccine.

“If anyone is asking you to pay either to book an appointment or to get the actual vaccine, it’s a scam,” Rosato said. “Getting the shot is free, and you can’t buy it anywhere.”

Consumers should also not be charged directly for vaccine administration. CDC says vaccination providers can be reimbursed for administration fees by the patient’s public or private insurance company or, for uninsured patients, by the Health Resources and Services Administration’s Provider Relief Fund. No one can be denied a vaccine if they are unable to pay a vaccine administration fee.

If you get an unsolicited phone call, text, email or even knock on the door from someone asking for your Social Security number or credit card or banking numbers, don’t give them out.

Instead of responding to mysterious communications, the safest way to secure a vaccine dose is to be proactive and go through official public health channels, your doctor or pharmacy.

Despite earlier warnings, people continue to post pictures of their white vaccine record cards. The Federal Trade Commission says the limited information on it can still be a starting point for identity theft, medical fraud or phishing scams.

RELATED: Want to participate in a COVID-19 clinical trial? Don’t fall for these scams.

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