PSA: Fake COVID-19 vaccination cards could be a crime

An FBI announcement made clear this late winter/early spring that fake COVID-19 vaccination record cards are illegal. If you make or buy a fake COVID-19 vaccination record card, wrote an FBI representative, "you endanger yourself and those around you, and you are breaking the law." Further, the FBI and HHS-OIG recommend that you do NOT post photos of your legitimate vaccine card to social media – people are using said photos to fake their own cards and commit fraud.

The FBI released alert number I-033021-PSA to their OIG PSA space with instructions for those with legitimate vaccination cards and those attempting to buy or make fake cards. Three warnings are listed for those who did not receive their full vaccine:

• Do not buy fake vaccine cards

• Do not make your own vaccine cards

• Do not fill-in blank vaccination record cards with false information

The FBI made clear that, in addition to putting one's self and others at risk of contracting COVID-19, using a fake vaccination card with an official government agency's seal is a crime. This crime "may be punishable under Title 18 United States Code, Section 1017, and other applicable laws."

The FBI went on to warn businesses, schools, places of worship, and government agencies to continue to follow CDC guidance, maintain social distancing, and use personal protective equipment "because individuals may use fake vaccine cards to misrepresent themselves as vaccinated." In other words: People using these fake vaccine cards are making it necessary to extend this active pandemic and the safety rules that they're trying to sidestep.

Back in early February, the FTC started warning against over-sharing on social media. Celebrating your second COVID-19 vaccination by posting your official vaccination card to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, or other social media networks is a quick path to identity theft and fraud. Instead, it's recommended that individuals post celebratory images without personal information attached – easy and safe.