SAN LUIS OBISPO — The County of San Luis Obispo health officials report that they have received information stating that scams involving the COVID-19 vaccine encourage residents to remember if something seems too good to be true it probably is. Scammers are using telemarketing calls, email, text messages, social media platforms, and door-to-door visits to perpetrate COVID-19-related scams.

“The vaccine brings great promise that we will soon be able to return back to a more normal life,” said Dr. Penny Borenstein, County Health Officer. “Unfortunately, some people want to take advantage of people’s desire to get vaccinated for their own criminal benefit.”

Protecting yourself is the best course of action. Always verify the spelling of web addresses and email addresses that look trustworthy, as they may be imitations of legitimate websites. However, if you are unsure if a message you receive is legitimate, reach out to family, friends, or the Phone Assistance Center at (805)543-2444, and a staff member will help you determine if the message you received is real or a scam.

Tips on how to spot a potential scam:
• Being asked to pay out of pocket to get the vaccine sooner.
• Requirements to provide credit card information for “shipping purposes.”
• Charging a fee to gain access to a vaccine or to add a person’s name to a vaccine waiting list.
• Offers by marketers to sell or ship doses of vaccine for payment.
• Receiving ads or surveys for vaccines through social media platforms or unfamiliar email addresses.
• Claims of FDA approval for a vaccine or treatment of which you’ve never heard.
Always be sure to check for the latest vaccine information on RecoverSLO.org/vaccine, which lists county-run vaccine sites, current eligibility requirements, as well as the pharmacy partners that are currently providing vaccines in our community.

If you believe you have been the victim of COVID-19 fraud, immediately report it to:
• HHS-OIG Hotline: (800)HHS-TIPS or tips.hhs.gov
• FBI Hotline: (800)CALL-FBI or ic3.gov
• CMS/Medicare Hotline: (800)MEDICARE

For updates on COVID-19 in SLO County, visit ReadySLO.org.

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