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BBB warns of scams regarding COVID-19 vaccine passports

Published: Apr. 19, 2021 at 9:47 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - A potential new way to enjoy hobbies like traveling, concerts, and live sports could make you a target if you’re not careful.

“This one has the potential to really impact you on a personal level.”

Tim Johnston with the Better Business Bureau Serving Northern Nevada and Utah

As more Americans continue to get vaccinated against COVID-19 and restrictions ease across the country, states are trying to figure out how to kickstart events and reopen their economies without causing another surge in infections.

“Things are constantly changing, especially when it comes to COVID-19 policies,” Tim Johnston with the Better Business Bureau Serving Northern Nevada and Utah said.

Introducing vaccine passports: a digital form of proof - like an app on your smartphone - that shows you’ve been vaccinated.

Johnston added, “Smartphones are in the hands of toddlers all the way up to our senior population so it really could impact any and all of us.”

Right now, the U.S. Federal Government has no plans to create or require a national vaccine passport, however, New York is the first state to develop one.

“Scammers are paying attention to the headlines and right now, there really is a lot of confusion over this vaccine passport.”

Tim Johnston with the Better Business Bureau Serving Northern Nevada and Utah

There are a number of red flags to look out for when considering a vaccine passport.

Johnston added, “[Scammers] are either going to take your money, your information, or they’re going to take both.”

  • Be skeptical of any vaccine passport app that claims to be from the U.S. federal government. Email, calls, text messages that claim the government is requiring such a passport are likely scams.
  • Flying or attending an event? Check with the company directly. You may need to show proof of a negative COVID-19 test or vaccine to attend an event or board a flight. As with all things related to COVID-19, policies are frequently changing. Be sure to check with your airline, sports team, event venue, etc. beforehand to get the latest details.
  • Don’t buy fraudulent vaccine cards. Don’t support scammers and undermine the vaccine effort by buying a black market vaccine card. Misrepresenting yourself as vaccinated means you put yourself and others around you at risk of contracting COVID-19.
  • Research carefully. If you receive an invitation to download a COVID-19 vaccine passport app, be sure to do your research before entering your personal information. Scammers are very creative, so be skeptical of anything that seems too good – or crazy – to be true. Double-check any information against official news sources and company websites.
  • Guard your government-issued numbers. Never offer your Medicare ID number, Social Security number, health plan information, or banking information to anyone you don’t know or trust.
  • Think the link may be real? Double-check the URL. Scammers often buy official-looking URL domains to use in their cons. Be careful to ensure that the link destination is really what it claims to be. If the message claims to be from the 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 or call the source directly.

“The extra five to ten minutes that you spend now doing that research could save you hours, if not days, that you have to spend reclaiming your identity if it’s stolen,” Johnston said.

If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), the most important thing you can do is report it to help others from falling victim to scams. For more information about scams and how to avoid them, click here. You’re also urged to call local authorities.

Sign up for BBB Scam Alerts to receive weekly notices of emerging scams to avoid.

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