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Cyber‑criminals take advantage of pandemic

By CDCR Enterprise Information Services

Cyber-criminals are using the public fear and confusion about the COVID-19 pandemic and vaccine distribution to target consumers. The scams are on the rise.

Here are some examples:

  • Scammers duped two people into pre-paying for a vaccination. They only learned the truth at the vaccination site.
  • Advertisements targeted Southern California residents, falsely claiming that the vaccine can be obtained in Mexico.
  • In Massachusetts, scammers used false emails and phone calls, claiming to be from the Centers for Disease Control. They asked for personal information or a deposit to be put onto a vaccine list.

These criminals want your money, financial information, personal information, or even to plant viruses on your computer.

To protect yourself, follow these tips:

  • Be wary of any websites, advertisements, or individuals asking you to pay out of pocket for the vaccine or offering means of getting the vaccine early.
  • Always check your sources. Make sure you are getting your information from a healthcare provider or public health officials.
  • Do not provide financial information or sensitive personally identifiable information or PII. This includes your social security number over text, email, or phone to anyone claiming to be involved in the vaccine distribution process.
  • Double check that you are visiting an official website before you click. Look for typos in the domain address that may indicate a spoofed website.
  • Educate yourself on what phishing emails can look like. Use caution when clicking on embedded links or opening attachments from unfamiliar sources.

For more information go this Federal Trade Commission site or this Federal Drug Administration site.

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