You know it’s getting bad when local police chiefs go on the nightly news to warn against scams. That’s what is happening in my area, and possibly in yours. Scammers are going all out to steal your information, money and identity, and they’re using the COVID vaccine as their tool.

A few weeks ago, the scammers’ tactic was to claim we were eligible for a special COVID Medicare card. The card doesn’t exist. So many of us might have said that in response to the frequent phone calls that the scammers changed tactics. Now they claim to have an appointment for you to get the COVID vaccine.

Here’s how it works: A scammer will claim to be calling from your doctor’s office, without actually naming the doctor. All they need from you, they say, is your Medicare card number and possibly your bank account or Social Security number “for identification.” Your best bet is to just hang up. But if you ask for the name of the doctor, they won’t know it. It’s the same with hospitals and clinics.

If you’re not sure whether the call is fake, hang up and call your doctor, the hospital or clinic, and ask if they’ve tried to contact you.

Scammers also are using different tactics: telling you they can fit you into a quick appointment, saying they’re from Medicare or your insurance provider, sending you an email that indicates you can get a fast appointment reservation by calling their special phone number, or offering you the vaccine at a “reduced cost” (the vaccines are free). Some of them actually offer to mail the vaccine to you.

Don’t fall for any of these scams. If you need help signing up online for an appointment, call your doctor’s office or the senior center. Don’t give scammers any information, not even your name.

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