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BBB warning: How to spot vaccine & stimulus check scams

There is no charge to get a vaccine and there is no fee to pay to get your stimulus money.

GREENSBORO, N.C. — 2021 is a new year and a new opportunity for fresh starts, right?
The same old Scammy Sammy is also stepping into 2021 and for them,  a new year means new scam opportunities.

Lechelle Yates from the Better Business Bureau joins 2WTK to answer your questions about scams. From 5:30 PM – 5:45 PM, you can text your questions at 336-379-5775.  

The Better Business Bureau put together these resources:

How the Scam Works

As always, there are several versions of this con. BBB Scam Tracker has received reports from people contacted through text messages, email, and phone calls about the new COVID-19 stimulus checks.

According to BBB Scam Tracker reports, watch out for an email or text message instructing you to click a link to "request benefit payments." The link will take you to an application, which prompts you to enter information in order to "make sure you are getting all the payments owed to you." Of course, this “application” is really a way to phish for personal details and opens you up to the risk of identity theft.

In a phone variation, the scammer pretends to be calling from a government agency. The con artist insists you need to pay money - or "confirm” your personal information - before you can receive your stimulus check. Other times, scammers claim that you can get additional money or even receive your funds immediately. All you need to do is pay a small “processing fee" through a pre-paid debit card.

Tips to Spot a Government Imposter Scam:

Stay calm. If you receive any of these impostor calls, resisting the urge to act immediately, no matter how dramatic the story is. Scammers try to get you to act before you have a chance to think.

Don't reply directly. Don’t respond to the call, text, or email. If you think the message may be real, find the government agencies’ contact information on their website and contact them directly.

Check for look-alikes. Be sure to do your research and see if a government agency or organization actually exists. Scammers often make up names of agencies and/or grants.

Do not pay any money for a "free" government grant or program. If you have to pay money to claim a "free" government grant, it is not really free. A real government agency will not ask you to pay an advanced processing fee. The only official list of all U.S. federal grant-making agencies is Grants.gov.

Vaccines: What to Expect from Scammers:

Vaccines are free but scammers are now charging people for fake appointments. Several counties in the Triad are taking appointments for the vaccines by phone, others through a website. People need to watch out for fake appointment website pages that charge money to sign up for the appointments – and be careful of advertised phone numbers that could land you on the line with a scammer.

How to spot a vaccine scam:

Just remember – appointments and vaccines are free.

Research 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. And be aware that none of the vaccines can be currently purchased online or in stores.

Check with your doctor:  If you want a vaccine early, reach out to your healthcare provider about your options. If you don't have a primary care physician, check out the official website of your local health department for more information

Ignore calls for immediate action. While you may want to be first in line for the vaccine, don’t let that sense of urgency cloud your judgment. Scammers try to get you to act before you think. Don't fall for it.

Think the link may be real? Double-check the URL. Scammers often buy official-looking URLs to use in their cons. Be careful that the link is really what it pretends to be. If the message alleges to come from the local government, make sure the URL ends in .gov (for the United States) or .ca (for Canada). When in doubt, perform a separate internet search for the website.