IN YOUR CORNER: Vaccine Scams prey on the vulnerable

In Your Corner

OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) – Every day, thousands of Oklahomans turn to state websites, hoping their number is called for the COVID vaccine.

But a troubling trend is taking advantage, stealing your money and identity.

It’s a tale as old as In Your Corner itself.

“The root of every scam that we see. The urgency, and the too good to be true,” said Kitt Letcher, with the Better Business Bureau. “It stands the test of time, it happens every single time.”

But a new twist has officials on edge, preying on the desire for the most coveted product in the world, a COVID-19 vaccine.

Kitt with the BBB is putting out the warning. Whether it be by mail or phone call, fraudsters have sunk to a new low.

“They get your social security number, medical information, asking for really personal information,” she explained. “So they’re not just stealing your money, they’re potentially trying to steal your identity as well.”

According to the state website, as of Tuesday morning, nearly 213,000 Oklahomans had received at least one dose of the vaccine.

But opportunities are hard to come by, a problem Kitt knows all too well.

“My parents are in their 70s and we’ve been trying to use the different website portals that have been set up [to] get them an appointment online,” Kitt said. “We actually had to increase the radius of locations we were willing to drive to, to get them a spot.”

Help, though, is on the way.

“Please know, if you’re having trouble scheduling an appointment, there will be additional opportunities to do so on the portal,” Deputy Commissioner Keith Reid, with the State Department of Health, explained during a vaccine update Tuesday. “More appointments are added weekly.”

He tells our team when it comes to receiving the vaccine, you will not be receiving a phone call from local officials, unless you specifically request one.

“Under no circumstances are we gonna be calling individuals to try to ask for personal information in exchange for money. Having said that, I want to be clear, we have set up the opportunity for those who struggle with technology, that they can call 2-1-1, and in doing so, may end up on a list with their name and phone number,” Reid explained. “That will then be transferred over to a local health department. That local health department may call to get their basic information, but specifically for an appointment itself.”

“Like when we talk about the IRS scam. The IRS isn’t going to call you and say, ‘Hey, you have back taxes,'” said Kitt. “They’re gonna go through the appropriate approved channels, and this is the exact same thing.”

As COVID cases sour, Oklahoma is in for a rough couple months.

But help is here. Vaccines are on the ground! Officials say patience is key.

If you feel like you’ve been contacted by a vaccine scam, email covid19fraud@dhs.gov and explain your situation.

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