GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel is warning Michigan residents to be on the lookout for scammers using the COVID-19 vaccine as bait to try to rip them off.
The biggest red flag, Nessel told News 8, is if someone tells you that you need to give them money to get the shots.
“They shouldn’t be paying for the vaccine. This (the vaccine rollout) has been financed by the government,” Nessel explained in a Zoom call Saturday. “So what we’re seeing is people will have text messages come in to them, or phone calls or even emails, saying, ‘Hey, we can obtain the vaccine for you. You can sign up, but you have to give us your personal information, so give us your credit card or give us your Social Security number.’ Those aren’t legitimate. There is no health department that should be requiring that kind of information and you shouldn’t be paying out of pocket for it at all.”
They may also try to tell you that you’re being offered special “early access” even if you’re not in the current eligibility phase. But the old adage comes in to play: If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.
Nessel said you have to make sure the person on the other end of the phone is legitimate — even if it look like it’s the health department or your doctor. Scammers can use something called “spoofing” to trick your caller ID about where the call is coming from. Hang up, find the number for yourself and call independently to confirm whether the offer was real.
It’s common for scammers to use big tragedies or natural disasters as a cover to try to get at your money.
“It’s an easy way to take advantage of people because people are so desperate to get vaccinated,” Nessel said.
If you do get scammed, you can report it to your local police, the Michigan Attorney General’s Office and the Federal Trade Commission. Nessel said her office will do its best to get your money back — but because scammers can be anywhere in the world, it’s better to prevent it from happening in the first place.