The COVID-19 pandemic is making a turn for the better with vaccine rollouts and fewer COVID-19 cases. But there’s a new problem on the horizon. Vaccinated people are proud to show their vaccine cards — and scammers are, too. Scammers and those choosing not to take the vaccine are obtaining fake vaccine cards and putting people at risk by continuing to spread the virus. Here’s what you need to know to protect your identity and health.
The Vaccination Card Problem
Some events and public places are considering requiring vaccination cards for entry. Unfortunately, people have turned to selling fake vaccination cards online and printing fake cards at home. It’s become so common, in fact, that the cards are being sold on social media and blogs.
While some people are simply filling in blank vaccination cards with false information, this seemingly small lie has dire consequences, especially for others’ health. Using fake vaccination cards and misrepresenting yourself as being vaccinated puts you at risk of catching the virus and spreading it to others. It’s also illegal to use a government agency seal, so you may face jail and fines.
The FBI warned that scammers are selling vaccine cards for hundreds of dollars on Twitter, Shopify and eBay. The National Association of Attorneys General has called on these and other sites to prevent selling the cards.
Forty-six of America’s attorneys general signed a bipartisan letter on the issue stating the following:
“The false and deceptive marketing and sales of fake COVID vaccine cards threaten the health of our communities, slow progress in getting our residents protected from the virus, and are a violation of the laws of many states.”
Attorney Generals are asking sites to look for ads or links that sell fake vaccine cards on their platforms. Authorities are also asking for platforms to save the ads to collect information about the sellers but remove them entirely from the public eye.
Posting Your Vaccination Card on Social Media
It may feel like a badge of honor to show your vaccination card. Currently, the card is proof that you’re vaccinated. That includes your name, birth date, vaccine dose, and location. But if you show your card to the world wide web, thieves may steal your personal information for theft and fraud purposes. The best way to protect your identity and promote your vaccination status is to scratch out all of your data in the picture. Or post one of the many vaccination stickers that Instagram and other platforms offer to safely show you’ve been inoculated.
Vaccine Survey Emails
The Federal Trade Commission is also warning those vaccinated to beware of fake vaccine survey emails. The email, text or letter will ask you to complete a limited-time survey for a prize. You’ll be asked to pay for shipping fees using your credit card, which they’ll use to obtain your information.
Don’t click any links, call phone numbers or respond to the message. Instead, if you receive an email or text, report it to ReportFraud.ftc.gov
The Bottom Line
Even if you’re vaccinated, now’s the time to be vigilant of your identity and health. Continue to follow the three W’s — wash your hands, wear a mask and wait 6 feet. If you notice suspicious vaccine card activity, contact the Department of Health and Human Services at 1-800-HHS-TIPS or online. You can also contact the Internet Crime Complaint Center.
If you’re on the fence about getting the vaccine, remember that fake vaccine cards aren’t the way. Reach out to your primary care physician to learn more about the vaccine and make an informed decision.