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Beware of scams offering vaccine passports, Federal Trade Commission warns

Do not click on links in texts, emails
A CDC COVID-19 vaccination record card
Posted at 1:21 PM, Jun 02, 2021

INDIANAPOLIS — As more businesses and companies require proof of vaccination, the Federal Trade Commission is warning consumers to be wary of scams offering vaccine verification products and services such as a “vaccine passport.”

The FTC says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's COVID-19 vaccination cards you receive when you get your vaccine was never designed to prove your vaccination status.

“Some states, companies, colleges, and other organizations are creating their own verification products and services, including apps and digital passports or certificates,” said Colleen Tressler, division of consumer and business education at the FTC. “Some connect to state immunization databases while others rely on individual self-report. The patchwork approach gives scammers an opportunity to cash in on the confusion.”

The first step in protecting yourself is to not share your COVID-19 vaccination card online because of the risk for identity theft.

  • Be skeptical of anyone contacting you from the federal government. The FTC says the federal government has no immediate plans to create a national vaccine verification app or certificate or passport. So if get a call, email, or text from someone saying they’re from the federal government, and asking you for personal information or money to get a national vaccine certificate or passport, it’s likely a scam.
  • Check with airlines, cruise lines, and event venues about their requirements. Be skeptical of anyone who calls, texts, or emails you out of the blue.
  • Contact your state government about its vaccine verification plans and requirements.
  • Don’t share your information with just anyone. Scammers often set up websites to sell fake goods and services, including for vaccine verification certificates or passports. Before you share any information online, the FTC says you should check out who’s asking for it. Do an online search for the company or organization’s name with words like “scam,” “review,” or “complaint.”

Think long and hard before you share personal information, like your Social Security, Medicare, credit card, or bank account numbers,” said Tressler. “Scammers can steal your information to commit fraud and identity theft.”