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COVID-19 vaccine phone scam targets seniors: If anyone asks for a credit card number, hang up!

Posted at 5:06 PM, Feb 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 18:43:16-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- While supplies of the COVID-19 vaccine may be in short supply, attempts to scam people out of their money remain widespread.

Local health districts across Central Virginia have banned together to offer the COVID-19 vaccine to people aged 75+ who filled out a vaccination interest form.

Richmond City Health District (RCHD) officials have urged those individuals who have signed up to answer their emails and phone calls, so they don’t miss their slot. The call may show up as an unknown number on caller ID.

Shawn Smith, the program coordinator at Virginia Senior Medicare Patrol (SMP), warned the older populations to be vigilant as they wait for their turn to get vaccinated.

Smith and the statewide advocacy group Virginia Association of Area Agencies on Aging often urge their clients not to answer phone numbers they don’t recognize.

“[The scammers] are playing on a senior's emotions. When people are emotional they tend to not make the best decisions. Their head is kind of foggy and then rush them into the conversations where they’re able to manipulate and pressure them to make these decisions,” Smith explained.

He explained that older individuals often feel isolated during this pandemic.

“If it’s COVID-19 they’re playing on their fears of the virus and their desire to protect themselves,” Smith stated.

CBS 6 investigated the differences between authentic callers and scammers.

RCHD said they will never ask for any payment.

There is no cost, fee, copay, deposit, etc. to sign up for a vaccine or to be put on a wait list. If anyone asks for a credit card number, hang up.

City employees will never ask for your social security number, credit card information, or Medicare number.

“[The scammers] are actually trying to get Medicare numbers because, of course, they’re valuable to individuals. They can steal their identities using them,” Smith explained.

RCHD will ask for your address and date of birth. Phone calls may come from a Virginia or an out-of-state number as they are using some lines that do not have a local area code.

Phone calls will be made between 8 a.m. - 8 p.m. until all appointments are filled.

All legitimate e-mails linked to vaccinations will come from @vdh.virginia.gov domain. Do not click on any links that come from a different domain.