Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing lockdown, scammers were prevalent throughout. At the beginning where it was scams related to sanitisers and masks, the scams have now graduated to fake vaccines and phishing scams related to vaccination bookings. These newly bolstered vaccination scams come in light of the Co-WIN portal and app that was introduced by the government of India. Here are the top five scams to watch out for.
5 Vaccine Scams to Keep an Eye out for
1) Fake ‘web’-sites: In the chaos of the pandemic and the rush to get vaccines, the government had launched the Co-WIN portal to help bring order to the vaccine drives around the country. Taking advantage of this, scammers emerged with their own versions of fake Co-WIN websites. One way to identify these websites is by looking at the URL, in which it says ‘co-vin’, a clear indication of it being a fake.
2) Unauthorised apps: Websites apart there are and continue to be a number of fake mobile applications that are in place to scam people. These apps generally end in an identification name ‘.apk’. Vaccine seekers are advised to only download authentic apps from the official app stores such as the Google Play Store or the Apple Store. Even then it is advisable to only go for the official Co-WIN app.
3) False Notifications: Scammers have left no stone unturned as they are also resorting to old-fashioned text messaging and SMS. The Bhopal police are currently probing a case of fraud related to vaccines, where it was reported by the New Indian Express that these scammers are posing as government agents and try to phish people out of money using ‘authentic’ messages and even go as far as to send them an OTP to make deposits into particular bank accounts.
4) Keep an eye out for the miscellaneous: All the websites and apps aside, there have been countless other portals and platforms popping up that are being flagged by government officials. These scams can even take the form of cold calls and social media outreach.
5) The A-to-Z of an Authentic Covid-19 Vaccination Process
To avoid these scams, one can register online through the official Co-WIN portal or accompanying app. After registration, you can view and book from an available list of COVID Vaccination Centres (CVCs) as well as the date and time. An OTP will be generated prior to the registration and a confirmation token or slip will be generated. After this, a confirmation SMS will be sent. After the vaccination is done, patients will receive a message updating them about their next shot and a confirmation that the first shot was done. At present Co-WIN is the safest and most reliable application to make the vaccination bookings through.
Alternatively, people can also book a vaccination slot through Paytm’s platform. Users only need to look for the Vaccine Finder tool on the app which is under the ‘Featured’ section. Through this, people can search for vaccination centres based on their PIN codes or districts and based on their respective ages. After pressing the ‘book now’ button, users are taken to the Co-WIN portal to complete verification and booking.