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BBB: Beware fake COVID-19 vaccine scams trying to steal your money

The Better Business Bureau said scammers are already at it trying to trick people into handing over their money and personal information with false promises.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — As hospitals begin to roll out the first round of COVID-19 vaccines to its frontline workers, the Better Business Bureau is warning people to remain vigilant of scams pushing phony vaccines and cures.

The BBB said government officials have been cracking down on scams recently offering phony testing kits and cures. Now, scammers are riding on the wave recent news about the Pfizer vaccine rollout to trick people into handing over their money or information.

The BBB said people need to be skeptical of anything that seems too good to be true or outlandish, and to double check any information about the vaccine with official news sources. 

As of December 17, the COVID-19 vaccine is only available to frontline COVID-19 healthcare workers since most hospitals just received the first round of shipments. As more vaccines are approved and shipped, the general public will have growing access to them in coming months. 

Scammers have gotten creative with cold call scams and can spoof numbers to pretend to be with official organizations like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The BBB said it has seen an increase in robocall scams impersonating government officials.

"These scammers are coming out of the woodwork this year especially with COVID-19. If you get a phone call from someone that you can get a vaccine early or you can pay 80 bucks or any of that kind of stuff, it's not real, it's not going to happen, so don't believe it," Tony Binkley, President of the BBB of Greater East Tennessee, said.

To protect yourself, the BBB said you should never hand out personal or financial information over the phone, ignore suspicious calls, and to consult with your doctors first. Your doctor or health care provider will be able to give you information about your options and vaccine availability.