DATCP, DHS warn of vaccine trial scams

    A Covid-19 vaccine vial and a syringe (Getty Images)
    A Covid-19 vaccine vial and a syringe (Getty Images)

    With news of progress in the effort to develop a COVID-19 vaccine, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) are warning people of vaccine trial scams that aim to steal people’s personal information. 

    Scammers are using the recruitment of participants for vaccine trials as cover, according to a news release from DATCP and DHS. 

    Any clinical trial will require someone to give some personal information, according to the release, but never Social Security or financial account numbers. 

    “Understand what personal information the study may need,” the release states. “Screening questions for volunteers will likely include information such as your name, phone number, email, address, age, gender, race, ethnicity, and medical history. However, legitimate clinical trials should not ask for your Social Security number or financial account numbers.”

    DHS and DATCP say that if you are invited to join a clinical trial, you should first do a search for news of the trial and attempt to verify it with a database maintained by the National Institutes of Health. 

    “Clinical trials are big news; you should be able to find news stories online for legitimate trials on COVID-19 vaccines in your area by looking at local news sites,” the release states. “If you see an advertisement for a study, do an online search with the provided information and the terms “news,” “scam,” or “review” to check whether the study is legitimate. Do not click on links in emails, messages, or pop-up advertisements. Instead, use a verified website for the study host to ensure that you are not providing information to a scammer.”

    Victims of scams can notify DATCP by filing a complaint online at datcp.wi.gov, calling the Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 422-7128, or by emailing [email protected]

    Henry Redman
    Henry Redman is a staff reporter for the Wisconsin Examiner who focuses on covering Wisconsin's towns and rural areas. He previously covered crime and courts at the Daily Jefferson County Union. A lifelong Midwesterner, he was born in Cleveland, Ohio and graduated from Loyola University Chicago with a degree in journalism in May 2019.