Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts has issued a warning that scammers are trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
The high demand for the vaccine is providing an opportunity for con artists, according to Jennifer Stewart, senior director for fraud investigation and prevention at the insurer.
“There is such a pent-up demand for the vaccine and the rollout is going to be limited for a while because of manufacturing capability — this provides an environment ripe for fraud,” Stewart said.
Scammers have created websites similar to the state’s official vaccine appointment website to collect health insurance and financial information, she said.
“What they’ve done is change one letter of the website name so that it looks almost identical to the legitimate state website,” Stewart said. “This is a good reminder to not click on email links but instead visit www.mass.gov or your health care provider’s website and navigate from there to be safe.”
The phony sites offer the chance to preregister for shots.
“Right now there is no preregistration in Massachusetts and any site offering that is a scam,” Stewart said.
A health care provider may reach out to eligible people to be vaccinated, but Stewart said they will not offer early access nor request payment or ask for personal health insurance and financial information.
Blue Cross is covering the cost of vaccination for its members.
“As the distribution starts ramping up, people are going to get solicited to pay to get ahead in the line,” Stewart said. “You can’t pay to cut the line and get early access in Massachusetts. If that’s what you’re being told, that’s a scam.”
Fake ads for vaccines have also been showing up on social media.
Anyone with questions or concerns can contact the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office consumer hotline at 617-727-8400.