DOJ warns about fake COVID-19 vaccine survey scams

The Department of Justice is warning the public of fraudulent COVID-19 vaccine surveys used to steal money and personal information from consumers.

According to the DOJ, consumers who received the surveys via email or text message are being asked to fill it out with the promise of a prize or cash at the conclusion of the survey.

"The messages claim that the consumers need only pay shipping and handling fees to receive their prize. Victims provide their credit card information and are charged for shipping and handling fees, but never receive the promised prize," the DOJ wrote in a press release.

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"Victims also are exposing their personally identifiable information (PII) to scammers, thereby increasing the probability of identity theft," the DOJ continued.

The department urges consumers never to click on links or text messages or emails claiming to be a vaccine survey unless it’s from a known and verified source.

These schemes, commonly referred to as phishing schemes, may look like they come from government agencies, financial institutions, shipping companies, social media companies, among many others.

"Remember that companies generally do not contact you to ask for your username or password. When in doubt, contact the entity purportedly sending you the message, but do not rely on any contact information in the potentially fraudulent message," the DOJ wrote.

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If you receive a text message or email claiming to be a COVID-19 vaccine survey and it contains a link or other contact information, the DOJ is asking you to report the communication to the National Center for Disease Fraud.

This news comes as phishing schemes become an emergent trend amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, as fraudsters are increasingly turning to spam text messages or emails to lure victims into divulging personal information used to commit identity theft.

In another trending example, the DOJ has received reports that fraudsters are creating websites mimicking government unemployment benefit websites, including state workforce agency websites, and unlawfully capturing consumers’ sensitive personal information.