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Economy and Finance

Cyber Scammers Are Baiting Victims With False COVID-19 Treatment

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Scammers have taken a variety of angles during the pandemic to steal personal information. Now that a vaccine is out, cyber scams are on the rise.

If you get a mysterious email offering COVID-19 treatment or immediate vaccination in exchange for personal information, there’s a chance it could be fraudulent.

Scammers are taking advantage of people looking to get vaccinated.

Kathryn Albright is an executive with Umpqua Bank. She says many positive recent developments in addressing COVID-19 have created opportunities for scammers to get private information.

“A lot of scams via email, text messaging, phone calls, phishing scams, you name it," Albright says. "It’s all really around the recovery and individuals trying to gain access to the vaccine or aide, unemployment benefits, stimulus checks, etcetera.”

Albright says seniors are especially vulnerable to vaccine-related scams. Some examples include recorded phone calls offering to skip vaccination lines, and offering COVID treatment in exchange for medical or financial information. Many trending scams have offered unemployment aid, and some scammers even pose as contact tracers and claim a fee.

“It’s always really important in times of disruption and crises ongoing like the ones we’re in, because cyberthieves prey on us when we’re at our most vulnerable," Albright says. "So it’s really important to be aware and hyper vigilant against these scams.”

Federal officials advise people to rely solely on trusted health sources for vaccine information. If you’re unsure about a source, Albright suggests calling either your bank or medical office to see if an offer is legitimate.