As more and more people are getting vaccinated, many are excited to share the news with everyone. Others want to protect the document like a precious commodity. But once you have that bright white card in your hand, several sources are warning against doing many of the things that may be your first impulse. Find out what you shouldn’t be doing, and why, below.
Don’t post pictures of your vaccination card on social media.
In the era of social media and social distancing, it is hard to resist sharing any news with your social networks on sites like Facebook. However, government organizations have warned against sharing pictures of your vaccination card online. While it may seem harmless, your vaccination card does have sensitive information. In addition to your name and birthday, it may also include medically sensitive information that could be used to track down even more details about you. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns that “identity theft works like a puzzle, made up of pieces of personal information” – the more small details about you that scammers have access to, the more likely they are to have the information they need to fraudulently claim your tax refund, open new accounts in your name, or commit other forms of identity theft.
Don’t laminate your card right away.
Many of us are anticipating that having proof of vaccination will be almost as important as ID in the near future, so it makes sense that you may want to laminate yours to help keep it safe. Though some companies are offering free lamination, you should probably hold off and consider a few things beforehand. First, double check your information on the card – is all of your personal information correct? If you received a 2-dose vaccine, have both does been documented? Second, make sure you have a backup. Just in case your card is lost or damaged, it is good practice to keep a copy – like a photocopy or a picture on your phone.
Robocalls are phone calls that play a recorded message when you answer. They can be easy to identify when they use an automated, robot-like voice, but some use a recording of a real person timed with breaks in the audio to make it sound like you’re talking to a real person.
There are some legal reasons for robocalls, but if you are getting a lot of these calls trying to sell you something, they are likely illegal or even a scam. Even from real companies, robocalls trying to sell you something are illegal unless they have your express written permission to contact you with robocalls. However, if someone is already willing to break the law to illegally contact you, it’s likely to also be a scam.
If you get an illegal robocall, just hang up. Do not press any numbers, even if the recording claims that you can do so to stop the calls. You can help fight robocalls by reporting those you receive to the Federal Trade Commission at DoNotCall.gov. The FTC will want to know your phone number, the number that called you (even if you think it’s fake), and any phone numbers the robocall may have told you to call back. They will also want the exact date and time of the call if you know it.
For more information about robocalls, visit the FTC’s website.
Spoofing is a technique where scammers “spoof” or falsify their identifying information to make you think it is coming from a trusted source. More advanced scammers can even make their caller ID show up on your phone as a known contact, like a family member. Other common techniques involve sending emails with official-looking logos for valid businesses, but the user’s email address will be from a personal account (ex. firstname.lastname@example.org) instead of from an official business account for the organization they claim to represent.
If you have a Medicare card in your wallet, you should think about making a copy of it and carrying that instead. Your Medicare account number is your Social Security number, so you are at risk of identity theft if it is found or taken by someone malicious. But of course, you need to carry your Medicare card because the ID serves as the proof of insurance. In order to protect your identity, you must make a photocopy of your Medicare card and black out or cut out the last four digits of the ID numbers. This way, if you need to use your Medicare card, you can give them the photo copy and provide them with the last four digits verbally (if able). According to AARP, the one or two additional letters or numbers after your SSN/ID is used to identify the type of beneficiary you are. But they have stated that it does not matter if you leave in or decide to remove those ending letters and numbers on your photocopy of the card.
If you have any credit cards, debit cards, licenses, etc., you should also think about making photocopies of them, and keeping those copies at home. It helps to write down the phone numbers you need to call in case you misplace the cards or if they are stolen. In addition, you should go through your wallet and see what you are carrying around every day. Chances are, you don’t need to be carrying all the cards in your wallet. It helps to have an organized wallet and an organized record of your photocopies, so that you know what to do if you misplace them or if they are stolen.
1) Call and Place a Fraud Alert with one of the three consumer reporting companies.
These are the companies that deal with your credit score. Placing a Fraud alert with one of these companies will allow you to be notified before a new account is opened or the status of an existing account in your name is changed. If you contact ONE of these three companies they are required to contact the other two. A Fraud Alert also entitles you to FREE copies of your credit reports. You may click on any of the following links for the contact information for: Equifax, Experian, Transunion.
2) Close/Cancel Open Accounts
Close all accounts you fear might be tampered with. If you suspect any tampering has occurred before you had the opportunity to close the account use the ID Theft Affidavit to dispute any new unauthorized accounts or transactions.
3) Contact Law Enforcement
File a report with your local police in the community the theft took place. Make sure they provide you with a copy of the report or the number of your report. This is important when dealing with your creditors. It will show proof that the transactions being disputed have been reported to authorities.
4) Contact the Trade Commission
File your complaint with the FTC. They maintain a database of Identity Theft cases that us used by law enforcement agencies for investigation. The Toll-free Hotline is 1 877-ID THEFT or 1 877-438-4338