As the COVID-19 vaccine continues to become available to more people, be aware of potential phishing scams related to the vaccine. It’s important to stay vigilant to certain warning signs prevent you from being a phishing scam.

Two vaccines to prevent coronavirus infections have now been granted authorization for emergency use. Every day thousands of more people are becoming vaccinated.

States determine who get immunized first, with health-care personnel, nursing home residents and their caregivers prioritized as vulnerable populations. But the anticipated delay in distribution to the general population is enough to allow scammers to slip in with fake COVID-19 vaccine offers to people hoping to jump the line to get vaccinated.

Here’s how to help avoid falling victim to vaccine-themed phishing scams.

To start with no one from a legitimate vaccine distribution site will ever ask for your Social Security number or bank information in order to receive a vaccine. People should not give cash or any other form of payment to suspicious callers, nor should they divulge personal, medical or financial information, which criminals can use to fraudulently bill federal health care programs and to commit medical identity theft.

So, remember these three things: you can’t pay to put your name on a list to get the vaccine; you can’t pay to get early access to the vaccine; and receiving a call or email about the vaccine that asks for your Social Security, bank account, or credit card number should be a big red flag.

To help stay safe, you should look to employ these general online and cyber-fraud prevention techniques:

  • Verify the spelling of web addresses, websites and email addresses that look trustworthy but may be imitations of legitimate websites.
  • Ensure operating systems and applications are updated to the most current versions.
  • Update anti-malware and anti-virus software and conduct regular network scans.
  • Never provide personal information of any sort via email; be aware that many emails requesting your personal information may appear to be legitimate.