There’s no good thing that scammers won’t try to ruin.
The Federal Trade Commission issued a warning Wednesday that unscrupulous actors are preying upon the newly vaccinated, attempting to trick those in the throes of post-jab joy out of their cash.
“Complete this short 30-second survey about your experience with Moderna COVID-19 VACCINE to select one of our exclusive reward offers (minimum value $90),” reads one such scam highlighted by the FTC.
While the specifics of the vaccine-related scams may vary, the broad details are the same. Potential victims are asked to take a survey about their shot experience, and are promised a gift in exchange for doing so. Of course, they only have to pay a small shipping fee first.
“People across the country are reporting getting emails and texts out of the blue, asking them to complete a limited-time survey about the Pfizer, Moderna, or AstraZeneca vaccine,” explains the FTC. “(And no doubt, there may be one for Johnson & Johnson, too.) In exchange, people are offered a free reward, but asked to pay shipping fees.”
Presumably, this is when would-be victims are asked to fork over their credit card number.
This follows on previous warnings in May of 2020, also from the FTC, about contact-tracing scams that involved tricking people into clicking spam links sent via text message. The ongoing problem of coronavirus-themed scams is so bad, Google has created a COVID-19-specific section on its Scam Spotter website to help educate people on the main types of COVID-related scams.
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“No legitimate surveys ask for your credit card or bank account number to pay for a ‘free’ reward,” the FTC helpfully reminds consumers.
Unfortunately, if some of the comments on the FTC site are to be believed, this warning can’t come soon enough.
“I got [the survey] last week along with the reviews from other ‘people’ about how wonderful the gifts were,” reads one reply to the FTC’s warning from March 24. “After I put my info in it said ‘Customer is blacklisted’ or something like that. I went back and deleted all my info but I bet now it was to [sic] late.”
Post-vaccine survey scams are just one of many types of COVID-adjacent fraud highlighted by the FTC. The commission has an entire website dedicated to educating consumers about the ways criminals are attempting to separate them from their cash amid a (still) ongoing pandemic.
If you think you’ve received a potentially fraudulent text message or email about a post-vaccine survey, your best bet is to not open it. If you’ve already opened it and are wondering what to do, do not click on any links the message contains. They may point your phone or computer to malware.
Instead, delete the message — and rest easy knowing that you both avoided a scam and, hopefully, got your vaccine.