SAVANNAH, Ga. (WTOC) - The Federal Trade Commission is sounding the alarm about a new COVID-19 vaccine survey scam. Attempts to steal your money and information usually range from online dating to unemployment benefits scams.
Security experts like Dr. Emmanuel Nojang, coordinator of the Homeland Security and Management program at Savannah State University, say the COVID-19 pandemic has caused the number of reported online scams to significantly increase.
“Those who are vulnerable, especially in these situations where millions of people lost jobs, these “too good to be true” scams start looking really good to them and this is when they fall victims to these scams,” said Dr. Nojang.
The Federal Trade Commission says people around the country are receiving emails and text messages asking them to complete a survey about the Pfizer, Moderna and AstraZeneca vaccines. It’s offering those who get a vaccine a free reward, but asks them to pay shipping fees.
Dr. Nojang says this is just a way for scammers to steal your information.
“Don’t do it,” says Dr. Nojang. “You give them your phone numbers, you give them your name, you give them all the pertinent information that they can use now to hack your other systems.”
If you think someone is trying to scam you, Dr. Nojang suggests not answering the phone, responding to a text or clicking on a link that you don’t recognize. Instead, you should find a way to verify that information. If you’ve fallen victim to a scam, he says the best thing you can do is report it. By reporting a scam to law enforcement, your bank or an agency, you not only protect yourself but others as well.
“Even though we are victims, we can prevent other people from being scammed,” he said.
Dr. Nojang says the total number of scam victims reported is far below the number of people that have actually been scammed. For more ways to avoid being scammed, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s website.