Although many elderly adults are still struggling to schedule appointments for the COVID-19 vaccine, those fortunate enough to get their immunizations should be careful about celebrating with a photo of their record card on social media. Because vaccination cards contain personal information including name, birth date and patients numbers, they can be used by scammers to steal identities and commit fraud.
According to a recent AARP report, the Better Business Bureau warns that even the vaccine location should be kept private. Posting vaccination cards online also helps fraudsters create credible fake cards for sale online – a scam that is already taking place in England. If fake vaccine cards begin to circulate widely, they threaten to undermine the rollout of immunization efforts as well as one of the primary ways to track vaccinations.
If you have already proudly posted your vaccine card on Instagram or Facebook, remove the image immediately and instead use a sticker or a “frame” on social media to indicate you have been inoculated. While you are at it, this is a good time to check your privacy settings on social media platforms. Remove any references to birth dates – this is the holy grail for scammers used to build a profile on you and potentially steal your identity.
To keep your personal information safe on platforms like Facebook, while using the mobile app, your location setting can be turned off in your smartphone or tablet’s privacy settings or by switching the background location in the app itself to off in Privacy Shortcuts > Manage Your Location settings. You can also turn off facial recognition in this tab.
Two-factor authentication is also a good idea while using social media to prevent digital accounts from being hacked, particularly if your passwords are weak or frequently used on various sites. Although social media is a great way to stay in touch with friends and family from a distance, be sure that you actually know all your “friends” and dismiss any people with whom you are only loosely connected.