A San Francisco Bay Area county is warning residents to not do this after getting a COVID-19 vaccine

Ed Walsh

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Image courtesy Contra Costa County Health Services

You have probably seen postings on social media from people who have just gotten vaccinated. Besides causing "vaccinatinon envy" from those who are not yet eligible to receive the vaccine, there is a new warning from health departments all over the country about posting a photo of a vaccine card on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

The San Franicsco Bay Area county of Contra Costa put out this warning on the Contra Costa Health Services Facebook page: "Vaccination record cards contain sensitive & personal info that can be used by scammers. Try one of these alternatives instead of posting a photo of your card. "

The warning from Contra Costa County echoes a similar warning issued by the Federal Trade Commision last month: Seena Gressin an attorney with the Division of Consumer and Business Education, Federal Trade Commision wrote:

"Some of you are celebrating your second COVID-19 vaccination with the giddy enthusiasm that’s usually reserved for weddings, new babies, and other life events. You’re posting a photo of your vaccination card on social media. Please — don’t do that! You could be inviting identity theft.

"Your vaccination card has information on it including your full name, date of birth, where you got your vaccine, and the dates you got it. When you post it to Facebook, Instagram, or to some other social media platform, you may be handing valuable information over to someone who could use it for identity theft.

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Image courtesy Federal Trade Commission

"Think of it this way — identity theft works like a puzzle, made up of pieces of personal information. You don’t want to give identity thieves the pieces they need to finish the picture. One of those pieces is your date of birth. For example, just by knowing your date and place of birth, scammers sometimes can guess most of the digits of your Social Security number. Once identity thieves have the pieces they need, they can use the information to open new accounts in your name, claim your tax refund for themselves, and engage in other identity theft.

"Want to share the news about your vaccination? How about a photo of a nifty adhesive bandage on the injection site? (You can show off your tattoos and deltoids at the same time.) Or, post a photo of your white or orange vaccine sticker. The stickers are really cool.

"As for your social media networks, be sure that you’re not oversharing information that can serve as a key to your PIN number or answer a security question. And, while you’re checking, check your privacy settings too. If you want to limit access to a small group of family and friends, make sure the settings are configured to avoid sharing information with strangers.

"Visit How to Keep Your Personal Information Secure for more tips about protecting your information against identity thieves."

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Image Courtesy Contra Costa Health Services

How dangerous is the risk of posting the vaccine card to social media?

Mark Ostrowski, head of engineering at cybersecurity company Check Point Software told CNN. "We will have hundreds of millions of people getting vaccinated. If cyberattack history repeats itself, these threat actors or scammers will try to find a way to take advantage of this situation."

Steve Bernas, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois told the AARP: “You don't want to give scammers any more information because they constantly build a profile on you.”

The BBB CEO added that it could take as long as ten years for the would-be identity theives to act on information that they were able to harvest from social media.

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