Attorney General Kwame Raoul is urging residents throughout Illinois to be on alert for scams related to the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine.
As the general public begins to receive doses of the vaccines manufactured by Pfizer and Moderna, Raoul’s office is cautioning people to be alert for scams and theft of personally-identifiable information.
“People should be wary of anyone who offers the vaccine or promises priority access to the vaccine or a COVID-19 cure in exchange for money,” Raoul said. “I am urging Illinois residents to be vigilant for scams related to the vaccine, which could compromise their health and personal information. People should report these scams to my office.”
“Currently, there is a limited amount of vaccine in Illinois and in the U.S.,” said Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) Director Dr. Ngozi Ezike. “Because of the limited amount of vaccine, we want people to be aware of potential scammers who may ask you to pay out of pocket to get the vaccine, who offer to give you early access to the vaccine, or offer to ship you vaccine for payment. Until more vaccine is readily available, we ask people to be patient, understand there may be others in similar risk categories who may get vaccinated first, and continue to wear their mask, watch their distance, and avoid gatherings.”
The vaccine’s distribution is being overseen by Illinois public health officials, and it is currently available in limited quantities. Residents will be able to receive the vaccine only through a designated health clinic. No one can pay to put their names on a distribution list or purchase early access to the vaccine. Consumers should also be aware that Medicare or Medicaid will not call seniors or residents to proactively offer the COVID-19 vaccine. Residents should consult their health care providers or local health departments for guidance in determining when the vaccine will be available to them.
Raoul encourages people to take steps to protect their health and information:
Do not buy any kind of COVID-19 vaccine or treatment on the internet or from an online pharmacy. You should not have to pay any amount of money out of pocket in order to receive the vaccine. Everyone eventually will be able to receive the vaccine, even if they do not have health insurance.
Ignore online, phone, and text offers for the COVID-19 vaccine.
Hang up on any calls, including robocalls, which direct you to take immediate action or provide personally-identifiable information, such as your Social Security number or bank account number. Health workers conducting contact tracing will ask you to confirm your name and address, but will not request your Social Security number or financial information. Contact your local health department if you receive a contact tracing call and are unsure it is legitimate.
Report solicitations from telemarketers, text messages and social media platforms, as well as door-to-door visits. You can file a consumer complaint with the Illinois Attorney General’s office.
Delete emails and texts that promise or offer access to COVID-19 treatments, and do not click on any links contained in such emails as they may place malware on your devices.
Additional materials and data are available free of charge on the Illinois Attorney General’s website and on the Illinois Department of Public Health’s website. Individuals who have questions or need to report a scam should call the Attorney General’s Consumer Fraud Hotline at 1-800-386-5438 (Chicago), 1-800-243-0618 (Springfield), or 1-800-243-0607 (Carbondale), or file an online complaint.