ATLANTA — While it appears several vaccines are on the way to help quell the coronavirus pandemic, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning that vaccine scams are beginning to appear as well.
The BBB is warning consumers to be very aware of everything from phony treatments to phishing messages.
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The BBB says investigators have already been cracking down on phony COVID-19 testing kits and treatments and they’ve begun ramping up efforts to stop the sale of fake vaccines.
Officials say U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) has been working with the drug companies developing vaccines to stop the sale and distribution of potentially phony versions. The Federal Trade Commission has already issued warning letters to several companies claiming they had a product that would cure or prevent the virus.
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The BBB says fake products are only one way you could get scammed. Experts are warning people to look for phishing messages trying to trick you into sharing passwords and personal information. Scammers have already impersonated the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in phishing emails saying they have news on the virus. The BBB also reports an alarming increase in robocall scams where government officials allegedly say the same thing.
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The BBB offers some tips for consumers to look out for:
- Be skeptical of anything that seems to good or crazy to be true. Double check potential vaccine information with official news sources and that no vaccine is currently available to be purchased online or in stores.
- Check with your doctor. If you want to get the vaccine early, your healthcare provider will offer information and your best options. If you don’t have a primary doctor, check with your local health department.
- Ignore calls for immediate action. Scammers often will try getting you to react before you think. Don’t let the rush to be first in line, cloud your judgement.
- Check suspicious links. Double check the URL. Scammers often by official looking addresses to use in their cons. Make sure the link is really what it claims to be. If it alleges it came from your local government, the address should end in .gov. If you aren’t sure, search in a separate tab for the website.
The BBB suggests several resources to learn more about possible coronavirus scams.
The Federal Trade Commission has detailed information, as does the CDC on their frequently asked questions page. The FDA is also updating their website with a look at the progress on vaccine development and treatments.