BOSTON (WPRI) — Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts is warning members of scammers trying to take advantage of the COVID-19 vaccine rollout.
Jennifer Stewart, senior director for fraud investigation and prevention at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts, explained the high demand for the vaccine is providing an opportunity for scammers.
“There is such a pent-up demand for the vaccine and the roll-out is going to be limited for a while because of manufacturing capability – this provides an environment ripe for fraud,” she said.
Scammers have already created websites similar to the state’s official vaccine appointment website in an attempt to collect health insurance and financial information, according to Stewart.
“What they’ve done is change one letter of the website name so that it looks almost identical to the legitimate state website,” she 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.”
Email scams will offer recipients the chance to pre-register for a vaccine, Stewart added.
“Right now there is no pre-registration in Massachusetts and any site offering that is a scam,” she said.
While a health care provider may reach out to eligible people to be vaccinated, Stewart said, they will not reach out offering early access, and will not make requests for payments or ask for personal health insurance and financial information.
“As the distribution starts ramping up, people are going to get solicited to pay to get ahead in the line. Consumers should know that’s not possible,” she 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 seen on social media platforms, federal agencies have warned.
The best thing to do to avoid potential fraud is to sit tight, wait and make sure they get a legitimate vaccine, according to Stewart.
People should also make sure to double check that sources of information are legitimate, and never share personal or financial information with anyone other than known and trusted medical professionals.
Stewart reminded Blue Cross members that their health insurance will cover the cost of vaccination with no additional costs.
Anyone with questions or concerns can contact the Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office consumer hotline at (617) 727-8400 or file a complaint online.