The Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General (HHS-OIG), and the FBI are advising the public to be aware of individuals selling fake COVID-19 vaccination record cards and encouraging others to print fake cards at home.
Vaccination record cards are intended to provide recipients of the COVID-19 vaccine with information about the type of vaccine they received, and when they may be able to receive a second dose of the vaccine.
Yet fake vaccination record cards have been advertised on social media websites, as well as e-commerce platforms and blogs.
Buying a Fake COVID-19 Vaccination Record Card is a Crime
The federal agencies warned saying, “If you did not receive the vaccine, do not buy fake vaccine cards, do not make your own vaccine cards, and do not fill-in blank vaccination record cards with false information”.
By pretending yourself as vaccinated when entering schools, mass transit, workplaces, gyms, or places of worship, you put yourself and others around you at risk of contracting COVID-19.
Furthermore, the unauthorized use of an official government agency’s seal (such as HHS or the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)) is a crime and may be punishable under Title 18 United States Code, Section 1017, and other applicable laws.
Since individuals might use fake vaccine cards to misrepresent themselves as vaccinated, the federal agencies strongly encourage businesses, schools, places of worship, and government agencies to follow CDC guidance and continue to maintain social distancing and use personal protective equipment.
How Identity Theft Works
These vaccination cards contain your name, date of birth, patient number, insurance information, and location where you received your vaccine. Bad actors can use these images to steal your identity and commit fraud.
Identity theft works like a puzzle, made up of pieces of personal information. You don’t want to give identity thieves the pieces they need to finish the picture. One of those pieces is your date of birth.
For example, just by knowing your date and place of birth, scammers sometimes can guess most of the digits of your Social Security number. Once identity thieves have the pieces they need, they can use the information to open new accounts in your name, claim your tax refund for themselves, and engage in other identity theft.
Avoid Posting Your COVID-19 Vaccination Card on Social Media Platforms
If the individual did receive the vaccine, do not post photos of the individual’s vaccine card to social media websites because personal information could be stolen to commit fraud.
You can run the risk of the posted image being widely shared if the privacy settings on your preferred social platforms are not strict.
In case, you have already posted a Photo of a Vaccine Card, here are some options:
- Remove it and update your profile picture with a banner or a sticker advising that you took your vaccine. The main goal is to not risk your identity.
- Scammers are also using the vaccination cards placed on social media to forge vaccination cards and selling them for profit. If you feel that you have been a victim of identity theft, contact your financial institutions immediately and monitor your credit reports.
You can report suspicious activity involving fake vaccination record cards by contacting the HHS-OIG (at 1-800-HHS-TIPS or www.oig.hhs.gov) or the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center (at www.ic3.gov).