What older adults can do to avoid vaccine scams
Posted on January 15, 2021 by Admin
The big news making international headlines is the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines. As of January, about 11.9 million Americans have been vaccinated against the virus. While we can all be thankful for the speediness with which vaccinations have been developed and administered, the CDC, FBI and Department of Justice have sounded alarms about a concerning development: scammers using the rollout of vaccines to target and take advantage of seniors.
These vaccine scams are so new that cases are just beginning to emerge. Ben Taylor, the Legal Aid Society's Elder Justice fellow, shared a few tips to follow to avoid vaccine scams.
Be wary of unsolicited messages
The first two things to know about scammers are that they exploit people’s fears and revert to the same tactics over and over again. COVID-19-related scams involving fake PPE, cures and instant tests surfaced at the onset of the pandemic, and the same methods are repeating now with robocalls, phishing emails, text and social media messages, and door-to-door solicitation.
Here’s our advice, in short: Never interact with any unexpected messages from individuals or companies, even if they're known to you. If you receive an unexpected text message from someone claiming to be your healthcare provider, you can always call your provider directly to confirm its authenticity. Don’t click on any links in text messages or emails that seem abrupt or strange. And be skeptical of anything vaccine-related that asks for payment – the government is funding the vaccinations. Even if you have to pay for a shot to be administered to you, insurance will cover the charge.
Don’t trust anyone who acts fast
Another thing to know about scammers: They act fast and want to whip you into a state of panic so you act rashly. One strategy they employ is saying you’ll “lose your place in line” unless you pay for your vaccination right now. But no legitimate distributor is going to say you have to act immediately “or else.” Older adults will be among the first across the U.S. and Canada to receive immunizations, but the process of immunizing the entire population will take months.
Only share your information with trusted personnel
One reason these scams may prove effective is because the vaccine rollout is such a massive undertaking, and distribution guidelines aren’t clear yet. Generally, the way the process works is the government provides dosages to states, and then state governors decide who receives the vaccines (while following CDC recommendations). While rollout and distribution details are being sorted, check in with your healthcare provider or local health department for further details.
Finally, this above all else: Only trust your primary health provider with your medical and financial information. They are the only ones who will be able to tell you when and where you can be vaccinated.
Atria Senior Living is the sponsor of the Legal Aid Society's Elder Justice program. Learn more about how to avoid vaccine scams at YourLegalAid.org/COVID19ResponseAndResources.