UIHC warns about a COVID-19 vaccination phishing scam

Pfizer/BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. — Arne Müseler

The University of Iowa Health Care is warning about a scam related to COVID-19 vaccinations. In a message posted on social media, UIHC said people have been receiving phone calls from scammers who claim to be from UIHC and “can schedule your COVID-19 vaccination if you provide your social security number and credit card number.”

“We never ask for this info to schedule a vaccination,” UIHC said in a tweet. “If you get this call, hang up.”

This is only the latest COVID-19 scam to proliferate during the pandemic. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of the Inspector General has an online list on known schemes that use the virus as a way to steal money or information from people.

A version of the phony vaccination scheduling calls intended to steal important identity information and credit card numbers has already been used on people on Medicare, according to HHS. People “should be cautious of unsolicited requests for their personal, medical, and financial information,” the agency warned. “Medicare will not call beneficiaries to offer COVID-19 related products, services, or benefit review.”

In addition to its warnings about phishing scams and other ongoing frauds, HHS is also cautioning people against posting photos of their COVID-19 vaccination card online. The pictures can contain important information such as a person’s full name and date of birth — common targets for identity thieves, although many people already freely post that sort information online — but also contain the date of a person’s first vaccination and the provider who administered it. That sort of information makes it easier for the scammers to sound more legitimate if they are trying to convince someone to share personal information or credit card numbers.

Anyone who believes they have been contacted by scammers or encountered any other COVID-related fraud can report to HHS through the Office of Inspector General’s site or by calling 800-447-8477.

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