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Why You Should Not Post a Photo of Your Vaccination Certificate Online

With the excitement of finally being vaccinated for COVID-19, some people share photos of their vaccination certificates online. Being excited is okay, but you should be careful not to post a photo of your vaccination certificate online. Identity thieves constantly scour the internet looking for information about you. They can piece this information together to recreate your identity and use it for their criminal activities.

What do you give away when you post a photo of your vaccination certificate?  Information

The vaccination certificate you receive after your COVID-19 vaccine shot includes your name, date of birth, and the time and location of your vaccination. Therefore, by sharing this certificate online, you risk having sensitive data fall into the wrong hands.

Advising against posting your certificate, the Federal Trade Commission said in a blog post, “think of it this way – identity theft works like a puzzle, made up of personal information. You don’t want to give identity thieves the pieces they need to finish the picture. Once identity thieves have the pieces they need, they can use the information to open new accounts in your name, claim your tax refund for themselves, and engage in other identity fraud.”

Even with privacy settings activated on your social media sites, your information may still get out.  Your friends can share the photo with their friends, who might not be in your circle or among the people you trust.

Lost HIPAA Protection

The United States passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which protects sensitive patient data. The law’s goal is to prevent exposure of your sensitive data without your consent or knowledge. However, when you share the information on your vaccination certificate, you lose HIPAA protection.

The vaccination certificate contains your personal information in addition to a potential medical record number that links back to you. This means that criminals can use the information to commit medical identity theft or hack into patient portals.

Interference with Your Second Shot

According to healthcare experts, posting your vaccination certificate online could offer criminals critical information that you are not even aware of, such as geotagging data. This information could be used to determine your location, recreate fake vaccination certificates, and potentially interfere with your ability to get the second shot.

What to Do Instead

If you still want to share the news that you received a vaccine against the virus, you can share other less revealing details that come with no consequences. For example, you can share:

  • A vaccination sticker
  • A photo of your arm showing where you received the short
  • A flyer that indicates you have been vaccinated
  • A text-only post that captures your excitement for receiving the vaccine without revealing any sensitive information
  • Blur the details and sensitive information on your certificate using photo editing software

Bottom Line

People are excited about receiving the vaccine and share photos of their vaccination certificates online. However, this puts them at risk of identity theft. Experts continue to emphasize the importance of protecting your sensitive data. This includes  your date of birth, the place where you got the vaccine, or even the birth dates of your children.  Sharing these could put you at the risk of identity theft.

However, if you have already shared your vaccination certificate online, RKN Global notes that you can still delete the picture, adjust your privacy settings, and ensure that you know the people following your personal accounts.

 

 

 

Online COVID -19 Shopping Scams

The coronavirus has led to scams, including online Covid-19 shopping scams.  Stay-at-home and social distancing orders have made it necessary for most people to turn to online shopping. Online, they buy utilities, groceries, and anything else they need. More people are now shopping with retailers they have never dealt with before, and in some cases using delivery services they do not know.

While the surge of e-commerce is a great development, online Covid-19 shopping scams have also increased significantly. Here are some common COVID-19 online scams you should watch out for:

Fake Ads

Criminals post fake ads on social media sites and websites, especially for products in high demand during the pandemic, such as medications, test kits, and hygiene products.

In most cases, when customers purchase from these scam sites, they will share their personal information and never receive their order. Some criminals, however, might send you harmful or low-quality products.

Most online shopping scams require you to pay in advance; therefore, you will also lose the money you pay for the order and delivery service.

Delivery Scams

In delivery scams, the scammer will send you a text or email about delivering a product to your address. The message also includes a “tracking” link that you should click on to track your delivery or update your delivery and/or payment preferences.

The link is likely to lead you to a website that requires you to enter your personal information or download malicious software into your device.

Some of these scammers might leave a voicemail message with a call back number, or a note on your door with the number you should call.

You should never click on such links or call back those numbers, as they are almost certainly from scammers, even if they seem legitimate.

If they do sound legitimate to you, call the delivery service directly with the official contact information they have provided on their website.

Some common warning signs that you are dealing with a delivery scam include:

  • Urgent and unexpected requests for money, in return for delivering a package
  • Requests for financial and/or personal information
  • Links to websites with misspelled or slightly changed website addresses
  • Spelling and grammatical errors (and other telltale signs such as excessive capitalization and exclamation marks)

Gift Sharing Scams

Other scams online encourage you to join a gift exchange where you send a gift to another person who you may or may not know from a list the scammers provide. However, the goal of this scam is to steal your gifts or personal information.

Free Groceries Scam

Another scam related to online shopping involves a scammer sending a message claiming that the recipient won groceries of a certain value from a well-known retailer. However, you would have to provide your information for you to get the groceries.

You should not respond to such messages, but you should report them to consumer protection agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission.

Staying Safe

In addition to keeping yourself safe from the virus, you also have to watch out for online shopping scams to ensure you are not a victim.

RKN Global emphasizes the importance of peoples’ protecting themselves online. Protecting yourself online means you should be careful whenever shopping, especially when sharing your payment information. Here are some tips to keep yourself safe from online scams:

  • Always do your research when dealing with online retailers. Search online for reviews, scams, and complaints related to the retailer or delivery company you are about to deal with.
  • Only buy from licensed and verified sellers
  • Use legitimate websites that offer secure payment options
  • When purchasing from a new retailer, choose the pay on delivery option or look for another seller