Beware of COVID-19 vaccine phone scams

A San Francisco woman was thrilled to get a call offering her a vaccine -- but suspicious when the caller asked for her Social Security number.

Video Transcript

- Ingrid Collins is like many of us. The San Franciscan is wondering when she will get her vaccine. So when a person Called saying he was with the CDC, she was all ears.

INGRID COLLINS: They told me that I was eligible for the vaccine. And enthusiastically, I was like, oh, great, tell me what I need to do. And he asked me a bunch of questions.

- Too many questions, including what is her social security number.

INGRID COLLINS: And I was like, OK, this is kind of getting a little sketchy. And then he wanted my birth date, and I was like, OK, no, I don't think so. So I asked him, I said, are you going to be-- how are you getting me my appointment? I said, if you're calling from Washington, how do you know, in my location, where I'm going to get the vaccine? And then he got all flustered and hung up.

- If I had to guess, Ingrid, the CDC doesn't hang up on very many consumers. So Ingrid didn't fall for it, but many consumers do, which begs the question, why? Here's consumercheckbook.org contributing editor Herb "ConsumerMan" Weisbaum.

HERB WEISBAUM: When people are afraid, when someone offers a solution, an easy solution, you tend to turn off the thinking part of your brain and go with the emotional side of your brain, I got to have that. And that's what these con artists are preying on. They're telling you what you want to hear, but what they're telling you is an absolute lie.

- Now here's what's really interesting about this scam. There aren't many con men sniffing around. Alex Quilici heads up the robocall blocking app, YouMail. He's not seeing many of these fake offers.

ALEX QUILICI: There's about 30 million calls related to COVID every month, but relatively few of these vaccine scam calls that we've seen. Most are actually quite legitimate. It's the county saying, go to this location to get a vaccine, or your health care provider saying how you can make an appointment. Just random vaccine scams are out there but there's not a ton of them that we're seeing right now.