Beware of COVID-19 vaccine phone scams, SF woman shares experience: Here's what you need to know

"It tends to turn off the thinking part of your brain and go with the emotional side of your brain -- 'I got to have that,'" says one expert as to why people are susceptible to such scams.

Saturday, March 6, 2021
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.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Ingrid Coolins is like so many of us. The San Franciscan is wondering when she will get her COVID-19 vaccine. So, when a person called saying he was with the Centers for Disease Control, she was all ears.

"They told me that I was eligible for the vaccine," she said. "And you know 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 asking for her Social Security number.

"I was like, 'Okay, this is kind of getting a little sketchy.'" Coolins said. "I was like, 'No, I don't think so.' I asked him, '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?' He kind of got all flustered and hung up."

RELATED: The most common COVID-19 vaccine scams: What you need to know

So Coolins didn't fall for it, but many consumers do. But why? Here's Consumer Checkbook contributing editor, Herb "ConsumerMan" Weisbaum.

"When people are afraid, when someone offers a solution an easy solution, it tends 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," says Weisbaum.

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

RELATED: Face masks showing up in mail are part of latest scam

"There are about 30 million calls related to COVID every month," Quilici says. "But relatively few of these vaccine scam calls that we have seen. Most are actually quite legitimate. It is the county saying go to this location to get a vaccine or a health care provider saying how to make an appointment. Just random vaccine scams are out there, but not a ton of them that we are seeing right now."

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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