FREEHOLD, NJ — Coronavirus-related scams that specifically target senior citizens — in an attempt to gain their personal information — are circulating in Monmouth County, according to law enforcement officials.

And with the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine, they’ve taken on a new twist and sense of urgency, said Monmouth County Prosecutor Christopher J. Gramiccioni.

Scammers, pretending to be from a doctor’s office, insurance company or vaccine center, are calling senior citizens offering them any of the following:

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•  Early access to the COVID-19 vaccine for some form of payment.

•  Direct shipment of the vaccine for a deposit or fee.

•  Placement on a waiting list for the vaccine.

•  Additional medical testing and treatment when obtaining the vaccine.

In addition to asking for personal or medical information to determine if you “qualify” for the vaccine, they will also seek other information, including a social security number, Medicare identification number, date of birth, credit card or bank account information, or other personal information.

“We live in a world where scammers will try anything to get your personal information, medical information, and even your life’s savings using devious tactics. They are willing to pretend to be anyone just to take advantage of you. Please be vigilant — if it seems questionable, then trust your instincts that it is,” Gramiccioni said.

Other scams are found on social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other popular platforms showing ads from unknown sources that advertise access to the COVID-19 vaccine.

“The most important piece of advice during this unusual time is to be overly skeptical of any unsolicited offers of any kind, to stay vigilant no matter how convincing the voice on the other side of the phone may be. Just because it is on the internet does not make it safe or true. Do not share personally identifiable information ever over the phone. Obtaining this information to defraud you is the ultimate objective,” Gramiccioni added.

He advises anyone who believes they were victim of a COVID-19 fraud to immediately report it to their local police department. For Belmar and Lake Como residents, the Belmar Police Department can be reached at 732-681-1700.

Protecting Yourself from Falling Victim to COVID-19 Vaccine Scams

FBI and several other federal agencies offer the following tips to avoid COVID-19 vaccine-related fraud:

  • Consult your state’s health department website for up-to-date information about authorized vaccine distribution channels and only obtaining a vaccine through such channels.
  • Check the Food and Drug Administration’s website for current information about vaccine emergency use authorizations.
  • Consult your primary care physician before undergoing any vaccination.
  • Don’t share your personal or health information with anyone other than known and trusted medical professionals.
  • Check your medical bills and insurance explanation of benefits for any suspicious claims and promptly reporting any errors to your health insurance provider.

 

CORONAVIRUS DATA CENTRAL 

  • Click here for New Jersey's COVID-19 vaccine scheduling system, including preregistration. 
  • Click here to access Monmouth County's online vaccine scheduling system.
  • Click here for the state’s central online location for official vaccine-related information.
  • Click here for information from the state Department of Health on the coronavirus vaccination, including fact sheets and important state and federal data.
  • Click here for the latest from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
  • Click here for the New Jersey COVID-19 Dashboard.
  • Click here for New Jersey’s latest COVID-19 Weekly Activity Report.
  • Click here for Monmouth County’s latest coronavirus information.
  • Click here for COVID-19 testing information.

 

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Have a news tip or a story idea? Email editor and publisher Cathy Goetz at cgoetz@tapinto.net.