The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) are warning Wisconsinites of scammers who are trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout to steal money and personally identifiable information. Scammers may use calls, text messages, emails, social media, or door-to-door visits to mislead the public or cause harm. We are working with local and federal authorities to prevent these scams. In the meantime, we want to let you know how you can protect yourself and your loved ones from potential fraud.
Currently, approved vaccines are in high demand and in limited quantities. The federal government/CDC will oversee a centralized system to order, distribute, and track COVID-19 vaccines according to the distribution plan. In Wisconsin, DHS is coordinating vaccine distribution efforts with county and tribal health departments. Legitimate vaccines will come from local health departments, recognized health care providers, or local pharmacies; offers of vaccine from unknown sources are likely fraudulent. To learn more about who is currently able to get the COVID-19 vaccine and where eligible people can get vaccinated, go to https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/vaccine-about.htm.
Keep scammers away with these simple tips:
- Don't click on links in unsolicited emails. It could download a virus onto your computer or device. Even emails and posts that seem to be asking you to sign up for a vaccine list, promoting vaccine availability, or promoting awareness and prevention tips may contain dangerous links.
- Ignore online offers for vaccinations - Always talk with your doctor or another healthcare professional before you try any product claiming to treat, cure, or prevent COVID-19.
- You should not have to pay out of pocket to get the COVID-19 vaccine. The federal government and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services will not call, text, or email you seeking personal or financial information.
- Use reliable sources for the most current information.
- To learn more about who is currently able to get the COVID-19 vaccine and where eligible people can get vaccinated, go to https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/vaccine-about.htm.
- Visit your local health departments or health insurer's website for FAQs or resources on COVID-19 vaccine distribution if you have questions about vaccine availability in your area. Individuals should be patient, but if you have questions your provider is your most reliable source of information.
- Contact DATCP's consumer protection hotline at (800) 422-7128, or email email@example.com, before sending money or giving personal information if you are worried something may be a scam.
Please note: Tribal and local public health departments, or health care plans may use any of the following communications to let you know about vaccine distribution: call, email, patient communication tools such as a MyChart service, and social media. But none of these communications should require personal information like Social Security or Medicare numbers, or payment to reserve your vaccine.
If you believe you have been contacted by a COVID-19 scammer:
To report scams or fraud, for help with potential identity theft, locate consumer resources, or assistance with consumer issues contact DATCP's consumer protection hotline at (800) 422-7128, or email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.datcp.wi.gov.
For accurate, up-to-date information about COVID-19, visit: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/index.htm.