Don’t fall for phone call promising to put you at front of COVID-19 vaccine waitlist

RALEIGH, N.C. — No matter what you’re promised, you can’t pay to get your name at the top of the list to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

Our sister station WTVD found out that scammers are trying to capitalize on those who want to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The scam starts with a random phone call, text, email, or ad claiming that for a fee, you can go straight to the top of the vaccine waitlist.

“You can’t pay to be put on a list to get the vaccine earlier and if you get a random message about ‘Here is the COVID vaccine, we will ship it to you,’ or we are also seeing some of these miracle cures pop up for COVID, those are going to be some red flags,” Catherine Honeycutt with the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina said.

The BBB and the North Carolina Attorney General’s Office both continue to receive reports from consumers getting these scam offers. Government officials are cracking down on the imposters but scammers continue to put up new fake websites or ads offering the COVID vaccine.

Remember, the vaccine is available for free, regardless of whether you have health insurance. Vaccines cannot be sold, and you cannot buy one.

North Carolina Attorney Josh Stein said these scammers will take your money and leave you no closer to getting vaccinated. You also cannot get a vaccine mailed to you.

Currently, vaccines are only being administered at health care locations or designated vaccine administration sites. You can stay up to date on North Carolina’s vaccine rollout and learn more about how to get your vaccine here.

Tips on how to spot the vaccine scam from the BBB:

  • Research carefully: Scammers are very creative, so be skeptical of anything that seems too good -- or crazy -- to be true. Double-check any information about the vaccine with official news sources. And be aware that none of the vaccines can be currently purchased online or in stores.
  • Check with your doctor: If you want a vaccine early, reach out to your healthcare provider about your options. If you don’t have a primary care physician, check out the official website of your local health department for more information.
  • Ignore calls for immediate action: While you may want to be first in line for the vaccine, don’t let that sense of urgency cloud your judgment. Scammers try to get you to act before you think. Don’t fall for it.
  • Think the link may be real? Double-check the URL. Scammers often buy official-looking URLs to use in their cons. Be careful that the link is really what it pretends to be. If the message alleges to come from the local government, make sure the URL ends in .gov (for the United States) or .ca (for Canada). When in doubt, perform a separate internet search for the website.
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