Throughout the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, scammers have come up with creative ways to exploit the global crisis at consumers’ expense. When the virus was raging across the country last year, these schemers pitched fake cures. Now that nearly half the country is vaccinated and fears of the virus are fading, they’ve come up with something new.
Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody said her office is receiving reports that scammers claiming to be from drug companies are contacting consumers and asking them to take a survey about their vaccination experience. People who have recognized it as a scam report that the surveys are just attempting to gain access to people’s personal data, including date of birth and Social Security numbers.
“Please be on the lookout for mysterious emails, text messages, or phone calls claiming to be from Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson asking you to fill out a survey about your vaccine,” Moody said. “Reports of these fake survey scams are beginning to surface in Florida, and vaccinated Floridians need to make sure they do not fall for this scam.”
Moody said the scam is dangerous because it seems fairly innocent. However, she warns that any potentially sensitive personal information that consumers give away could be used to access bank accounts, set up credit card accounts, and steal identities.
The scammers have also been known to impersonate the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) when they send out these surveys. The request for information may offer money or prizes for filling out the phony survey after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
Adding to the danger of this particular scam, the CDC is actually conducting a legitimate survey about vaccinations. Moody says this is not a fake survey and is recommended by the CDC to help provide personalized health check-ins for citizens after receiving a COVID-19 vaccine.
So how is someone supposed to tell the real survey from a fake one? Moody says there are several dead giveaways when you are dealing with a scammer.
The survey asks for personal information, such as a Social Security number.
The survey promises some type of compensation for participating.
The email or text contains misspellings or poor grammar.
The email asks you to click on a link.
Moody cautions that you should not trust the number or information displayed on a caller ID, noting that it is very easy to spoof phone numbers. A hacker from across the world can easily make a caller ID display the CDC’s number in Atlanta.
If you think you were called by the CDC but aren’t sure, the agency has information here on how you can verify the legitimacy of the survey.