Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs warns of COVID-19 vaccine scams

on "December 23, 2020 10:11 am"

The state Department of Commerce and Consumer Affairs Office of Consumer Protection (OCP) reminds Hawaii residents to guard against scam attempts tied to the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. 

Scammers routinely prey on public fear to swindle money or personal information from their victims and will exploit the pandemic for financial gain. Possible variations of a scam may include requesting payment for early access or to be placed on a waiting list for the vaccine, or a person asking for your Social Security number or other personal financial information to sign up to receive the vaccine. Although federal authorities continue to monitor and combat the production, sale, and distribution of counterfeit vaccines and treatments, people should beware of anyone offering products or treatments for sale over the internet. Consumers are advised to remain vigilant as scam attempts undoubtedly ramp up.

“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. The best practice is to simply ignore or hang up on anyone offering unsolicited services,” cautions OCP Executive Director Stephen Levins. Check directly with your healthcare provider first before exploring any COVID-19-related treatment.

For the latest official information about the status of the COVID-19 vaccine in Hawaii, consumers may check https://hawaiicovid19.com/vaccine/.

Suspicious calls or scam attempts may be reported to OCP at (808) 587.4272 and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) online at http://ReportFraud.ftc.gov .

More information on consumer scams is available at the Office of Consumer Protection’s website: https://cca.hawaii.gov/ocp/.