You might want to share online that you received your Covid-19 vaccine, but posting the CDC vaccination record card on social media can make you a target for identity theft.
"It's great that people are excited about getting vaccinated — it's one step to getting back to normal," says Sandra Guile, director of communications at the International Association of Better Business Bureaus. "What they're doing is saying, 'Hey, I got my first shot or my second shot.' And they're sharing their card online."
Seems simple, but the details written on the card can pose issues: "They're sharing a key piece of information, and that could possibly lead to a more severe case of identity theft — and that's by sharing their first name, last name, and date of birth," says Guile.
It's not hard for scammers to leverage those details to collect more sensitive information. "Just by knowing your date and place of birth, scammers sometimes can guess most of the digits of your Social Security number," Seena Gressin, an attorney with the Federal Trade Commission's Division of Consumer & Business Education, warned in a February bulletin.
Scammers can also use your personal information to create phony vaccination cards, which they can sell online.
Video by Mariam Abdallah
With your personal information, thieves can do all types of damage. "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," Gressin wrote.
Last year, identity fraud cost Americans about $56 billion, according to the 2021 Identity Fraud study from Javelin Strategy & Research. "With chaos comes an opportune time to take advantage of others," Seattle-based CFP Jedidiah Collins told Grow last year.
If you want to share your vaccinations news, there are smarter ways to do so. The Better Business Bureau recommends blacking out the personal information on your photo of the card before you post. Still, the best way to protect yourself is not to post a photo of the card at all.
Instead, post the vaccination sticker you are offered when you get your shot. This way, you can still alert your social media followers that you got vaccinated without leaving yourself vulnerable to identity theft.
More from Grow: