With the COVID-19 vaccination rollout expanding rapidly across the country, tens of millions of people have been the recipient of at least one dose of the two-dose Pfizer or Moderna vaccines or the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine. From a public health standpoint, it’s an incredible achievement. Unfortunately, it also creates a large pool of people for scammers to potentially target.
The FBI regional office in Omaha, Nebraska, has issued a warning about people being contacted via email or text messaging and solicited to conduct a post-vaccine survey. Participants are said to receive prizes or cash for completing the questionnaire. But no such survey actually exists.
Anyone filling out the survey could be leaving their personal information compromised. Requests for names, addresses, or financial institution details could open up the person to identity theft.
The warning has also been distributed by the U.S. Department of Justice. "Consumers receive the surveys via email and text message, and are told that, as a gift for filling out the survey, they can choose from various free prizes, such as an iPad Pro," the press release states. "The messages claim that the consumers need only pay shipping and handling fees to receive their prize. Victims provide their credit card information and are charged for shipping and handling fees, but never receive the promised prize. Victims also are exposing their personally identifiable information (PII) to scammers, thereby increasing the probability of identity theft."
The survey scam joins a number of other COVID-19 related schemes. Some scammers have taken to social media to exchange money to secure vaccine appointment slots. Vaccines are provided at no cost and no solicitation of money will come from a legitimate source.
The FBI is also reminding people to avoid posting pictures of their COVID-19 vaccination card online, as visible details like their name, date of birth, and region can be used by identity thieves.