Looking for a COVID-19 vaccine? Here's some BBB tips to avoid scammers online

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- If you’re on the web looking for a COVID-19 vaccine – some experts want you to be aware of scammers.

They’re warning about fake websites and groups desperate for your personal information.

The Better Business Bureau said many of the vaccine hunters and groups actually do want to help you find appointments.

But there are some that just want to take from you.

“Anyone claiming to sell vaccine doses is a scam automatically," Lisa Schiller, of BBB Wisconsin, said.

Here’s a few tips to keep your information safe.

  • Always go through official public health channels and approved providers to get a vaccine appointment. In the US, COVID-19 vaccines are only available through official providers, such as your local public health department or a pharmacy. The exact providers differ by region, but you can find the list for your area using VaccineFinder.org. Aggregation sites should always point you to the official providers to schedule your appointment.
  • Anyone claiming to sell vaccine doses is a scam. Be wary of anyone who claims to have doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. This report from Digital Citizens Alliance found scam Facebook pages advertising vaccines made in China. While the pages didn’t actively promote sales of the drug, the scammers offered to sell the phony vaccine after being contacted through Facebook Messenger.
  • Don’t pay to add your name to a waiting list or to get the vaccine. BBB Scam Tracker has gotten reports about con artists charging for fake vaccine appointments. The federal government is providing the vaccine free of charge to all people living in the United States. Vaccine providers cannot charge you for the vaccine. Any claim otherwise is a scam.
  • Be very careful about giving out personal information. You don’t need your bank account details, credit card information, or Social Security number to schedule a vaccine appointment.
  • Always double-check the URL before entering personal information. Scammers often buy official-looking URLs to use in their cons. Be careful that the link is really what it claims to be. If the message claims to be from the local government, make sure the URL ends in .gov (for the United States). When in doubt, perform a separate internet search for the website or call the source directly.
  • Research offers carefully. Scammers are very creative, so be skeptical of anything that seems too good – or crazy – to be true. Double-check any information about the vaccine with official news sources.

"It’s so important to be careful where your information because you don’t know who’s hands it’s going to land in. This is the perfect opportunity – ripe for scammers – to try to get information from consumers and maybe even a payment. So you have to be really careful to protect your information.”

The BBB said you don’t need banking information or your social security number to schedule an appointment.

And when your time comes, remember, it’s free to get the vaccine.

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