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Security & privacy

Like it or not, phony ‘vaccine passport’ apps are out there trying to steal your data

Millions of Americans have received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, and many are eager to share their excitement. While it’s a bad idea to share your vaccination card on social media, cybercriminals are using other methods to steal your data. Don’t make these mistakes with your COVID vaccine card.

The use of vaccine passports has been debated even before the first shot was administered. Right now, there is no app required to prove your immunity for travel or other purposes. That hasn’t stopped cybercriminals and scammers from developing their own vaccine passport apps, though. If you download one, it comes with dire consequences for those that use it.

As more places and businesses consider using a passport of sorts, the more it encourages scammers to offer malicious apps.

Here’s the backstory on passports

You might not like the idea of a vaccine passport, but they may very well become widespread over the next few months. The passport functions as a digital health record. It proves that you received the vaccine and could be used for entry into buildings or airplanes.

Scammers have been hard at work developing fake mobile apps. Not only are these apps a waste of space on your phone, but they steal your personal data to boot.

There is currently no single app that has been approved or authorized by the U.S government. Whether that will change in the future is unclear.

With no federal backing, several companies have developed their own. As the Better Business Bureau points out, New York State launched the Excelsior Pass, and airlines like American Airlines and JetBlue have similar applications.

How to spot a fake passport app

The lack of a central app leaves the door open for scammers to develop fake versions and steal your data in the process. The Better Business Bureau issued a statement with some handy tips to make sure you don’t get scammed.

  • The U.S government hasn’t authorized any app for use. Be cautious of any app that implies it’s approved by state officials, government representatives or a government organization.
  • If you need to board a flight or attend a gathering, check with the airline or the organizing company. Some airlines have their own app that you should use, and some events may have a preferred method of proving your vaccination.
  • Never buy a fraudulent vaccine card just to go to an event. This is against the law.
  • If you download a vaccine passport app, make sure you don’t give away your Social Security Number or your banking information.
  • Always double-check the URL if a link to a passport app is provided. Criminals can buy domains that look strikingly like a real company.

Keep Reading

Be careful what you share if you’re searching for a vaccine appointment

Warning: Why you shouldn’t post a selfie with your vaccine card

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