State officials warn of rise in COVID-19 vaccine scams

Local News

HONOLULU (KHON2) — State officials are warning Hawaii residents to stay vigilant of an increase in COVID-19 vaccine scams.

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State officials say they have received numerous reports involving scammers sending text messages demanding individuals to call back to receive a COVID-19 vaccination in exchange for money. Scams also include calls with false claims that the vaccine will be available only for three months for $1,000, a limited time to create a false sense of urgency.

“All COVID-19 vaccinations are free. At no time should anyone pay for the vaccine,” said Hawaii Department of Health Director Dr. Elizabeth Char. “Everyone, including kupuna, will eventually have an opportunity to receive their vaccine.”

“As scammers accelerate their work to victimize individuals with seemingly legitimate offers, we’re urging residents to remain vigilant,” added Norma Kop, director of SMP Hawaii, which assist beneficiaries, their families and caregivers with preventing and detecting healthcare fraud. “We encourage residents to refrain from responding to communication from an unknown number, email or unfamiliar location to protect themselves from bogus COVID-19 vaccine offers, especially those asking to verify one’s personal information, such as Medicare or Medicaid numbers, to receive healthcare benefits.”

SMP Hawaii says the public should keep the following in mind:

  • No one can pay to “jump ahead of the line” and receive earlier access to a vaccination.
  • No one who calls from the Hawaii State Department of Health or its trusted partners concerning the COVID-19 vaccination will ask you for a social security, bank account, credit card number or related personal information.
  • Legitimate authorities will not ask for payment in exchange for the vaccine.

To learn more about ways to prevent, detect and report healthcare fraud, errors and abuse, or to volunteer, click here.

For the latest information on COVID-19 vaccinations, click here.

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