If you get a text from the state Department of Health about the COVID-19 vaccination asking for personal information, it's a scam.

Scammers are using telemarketing calls, text messages, social media and door-to-door visits to pull coronavirus related scams. An analysis of Federal Trade Commission data finds New Jersey residents lost a total of $3.8 million to coronavirus-related fraud in 2020 through Aug. 31.

The fake text that people have been receiving identifies the recipient by name and asks for a date of birth in order to deliver a "COVID-19 vaccination" message.

The Office of Homeland Security says that no government agency would ever ask for personal information in a text or phone call.

"These messages are likely a phishing scam to obtain personal information to commit healthcare fraud or other forms of identity fraud," the Office of Homeland Security said.

Phone calls were cited as the most common approach used by scammers. But scams launched in emails and websites resulted in the most money lost for consumers, the FTC report says.

Some examples of scams to watch out for, according to the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs:

  • Scammers put pressure on people to buy or commit without giving them time to do further research. Before you agree to anything, do some investigating.
  • Check the FDA website to verify claims that a test has have been approved by the FDA or has received an emergency use authorization issued by the FDA.
  • Never share your personal financial information with strangers. Only make purchases and share your personal information with people and companies you know and trust.
  • Be aware of scammers posing as contact tracers.
  • The Department of Homeland Security says that if you wonder about the legitimacy of any call purporting to be from the Department of Health you should report the incident to your local health department.

 Previous reporting by Dino Flammia was used in this report.

Warning from the state Department of Homeland Security
Warning from the state Department of Homeland Security (NJ Department of Homeland Security)

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com or via Twitter @DanAlexanderNJ

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