Ohio AG warns of coronavirus vaccine scams ahead of widespread rollout

COLUMBUS — As the COVID-19 vaccination rollout continues across the county, and eventually widespread to the general public, Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost wants to make sure you don’t become a victim of scammers.

>>RELATED: Multiple federal agencies issue warning over COVID-19 scammers

Since the pandemic began in March, the AG’s office has taken 39 reports of COVID-19 related scams, Yost said.

“As soon as COVID became a thing last March, the swindlers were already out trying to scam people,” Yost told News Center 7′s John Bedell Wednesday. “Look, (scammers) prey on fear and crisis. They take that crisis to try to manipulate you that out of fear, you’ll give them money.”

But as the eventual rollout of the vaccine to more members of the general public in the coming months, Yost said scammers are already trying to prey on Ohioans.

The most common scam attempt so far: people trying to sell a place at the front of the vaccine line.

“First of all, there’s no way to buy a place at the front of the line. This is not Disney World, there’s no way to get around that,” Yost said.

Yost added that other scammers have attempted to ask Ohioans for money to guarantee they receive a vaccine.

“There isn’t going to be a cost to you to receive the vaccine when your priority level comes up. So anybody that’s asking for information over the phone – anybody that’s asking for money about the COVID vaccine. It’s probably a scam,” Yost said.

But like with many scam attempts there are ways to protect yourself, with the easiest being protecting your personal information, he said.

“Bottom line is as long as you’re protecting your personal information and your banking information, you are pretty safe. It’s when you start trusting people you shouldn’t trust that you get into trouble,” Yost said.

Another way to stay ahead of scammers is knowing, and checking, where the call came from.

“If you called your doctor, if you called your insurance company, if you called your health department – you’re in control of that call and you knew where you were calling it’s probably not a scam, the problem comes in when someone calls you,” Yost said.

And when someone calls you, and you suspect its a scam, Yost said the best thing to do is hang up.

“If you think it might be legit, here’s what you do: say, ‘where did you say you’re calling from?’ You hang up, say ‘I’ll call you right back.’ You hang up.”

“Look up the number for yourself and call your insurance company or your local health department or your doctor’s office or whoever it is that claims to be on the other end of the line,” Yost said.