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How to protect yourself from the new COVID booster scam

Miscreants masquerading as health officials are giving a call to people, mostly elderlies to dupe them just by asking for an OTP.

Published:Sat, January 22, 2022 6:42pm

By Meghna Dutta


The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on individual lives. While people are struggling to overcome the unforeseen calamity, cybercriminals are taking the best advantage of the situation.

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With the surge of COVID cases due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant, the government in India started administering precautionary doses for citizens above 60 years of age. While the initiative is taken to bring the cases down, miscreants are coming up with new ideas for scams. In the latest COVID booster shot scam, the fraudsters camouflaged as health officials are trying to trick people and take their bank account details. Here's how the miscreants are trying to dupe people-


COVID booster shot scam, the new hoodwink in town

As mentioned before, miscreants masquerading as health officials give a call to people, mostly elderlies given the precautionary booster is only allotted for senior citizens at the time being. The fraudsters then ask if the individual has taken the second dose along with address, phone number, etc. To one's surprise, in some cases, the caller already has the necessary details including the date of vaccination.

After getting all the information, the fraudsters make a second call to ask if one is interested to get a booster jab and if they want a slot for it. Once the date and time for the vaccination are confirmed, they sent an OTP to the mobile number. In some instances, the scammers can also ask to download a particular app like AnyDesk to help in the booking process. The OTP is nothing but a key to a 'phishing scam,' the final route to validate money transfer from the victim's bank account. Once you provide them with the OTP, all the money from your bank account is transacted.


As per a report, the c scam is mostly happening in rural areas where elderlies barely have any idea of how internet banking, UPI, or mobile apps for vaccine slot booking works. The scammers try to manipulate them to get the OTP for easy money transfer. To protect against such scams here's what one can do-

How to protect oneself from COVID scams

Fake/spam calls be it for COVID slot booking, or internet banking fraud can be avoided if one stays vigilant. The most important thing to note- government hasn't provided the option to book vaccine slot via phone calls. The only way to book vaccine slot is by heading either to Cowin portal or the Arogya Setu app. Even if you are unable to book online, you can still get the jab by visiting any vaccine center and register yourself for the vaccine. As for receiving OTP, it is advised to read the message carefully before taking a step. Secondly, one can download call blocker apps that highlight whether it's a spam call.

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