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Attorney General Stein’s Column: Stay safe from COVID-19 vaccine scams

Attorney General Josh Stein
January 2021

Over the past few weeks, North Carolinians have begun receiving long-awaited COVID-19 vaccines. This is a significant milestone in our fight against the virus, and it means we’re one step closer to the end of this pandemic. But as always, scammers will appear out of the woodwork to take advantage of North Carolinians, and we’re seeing more reports about vaccine-related scams. Here’s what you need to know about the vaccine.

The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) has made it clear that the COVID-19 vaccine will be available for free, regardless of whether you have health insurance. If someone contacts you via a phone call, a text message, social media, or email and says that you can reserve a vaccine by paying a small fee, it’s a scam. Vaccines cannot be sold, and you cannot buy one. These scammers will take your money and leave you no closer to getting vaccinated.

You also cannot get a vaccine mailed to you. Right now, vaccines are only being administered at health care locations or designated vaccine administration sites. Anyone telling you that you can order a vaccine is attempting to take your money.

No one can guarantee you a spot on a vaccine waitlist or help you get the vaccine early. NCDHHS, county health departments, hospitals, and health care providers are all coordinating to help ensure that the vaccine is administered in a rollout that prioritizes higher-risk communities in our state. There is no way to buy your spot in line.

Be careful of scammers using the vaccine to try to get your personal information or financial data. Do not fall for fake websites that resemble legitimate health department or health care provider websites. Make sure the website you are using is legitimate – look for the lock icon and a URL beginning with https in the address bar. To register to get the vaccine with a legitimate entity, you absolutely do not need to share your bank account, Social Security, or credit card number.

We are all eager to get vaccinated and protect ourselves from a virus that has upended our lives for nearly a year. But we cannot let our guard down against scammers threatening to take our hard-earned money or personal information. Watch out for suspicious messages or calls and get the facts about vaccines from credible sources. You can stay up to date on North Carolina’s vaccine rollout and learn more about how to get your vaccine at covid19.ncdhhs.gov/vaccines. If you or a loved one has questions about a possible scam or fear you’ve been victimized, contact our office’s Consumer Protection Division at ncdoj.gov/complaint or 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.