Individuals who have been diagnosed with vaccine-related injuries and illnesses have enough to worry about without having to be concerned that they could become victims of fraud. Unfortunately, some scam artists choose to target individuals who have filed claims under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP), and the Court of Federal Claims has issued a number of warnings regarding VICP scams.
Warning Signs for Possible VICP Scams
According to the Court of Federal Claims (also known as the “Vaccine Court”), the following are all hallmarks of known scams targeting VICP claimants:
- “The Court of Federal Claims DOES NOT call, email, or send letters requesting money or personal identifying information.” If you have received a call, email or letter requesting money or personal information that purports to be from the Court of Federal Claims, the inquiry is likely a scam.
- “Vaccine Program petitioners SHOULD NOT provide money, or ‘a tax payment,’ to anyone in exchange for a Vaccine Program settlement check even if the request allegedly comes from the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the Vaccine Program, the Office of Special Masters, or the United States Court of Federal Claims.” Scam artists may also send fraudulent letters that are purportedly from HHS or another federal authority. As a VICP claimant, you are not required to pay taxes or any other advance fees in order to collect your settlement under the VICP.
- “Identity theft occurs when someone assumes the victim’s identity to perform a fraud or other criminal act. . . . They may approach the victim in person, by telephone, or on the Internet.” Any request for personal information that appears to be related to your VICP claim should be viewed as a possible attempt to steal your identity. All requests for information from the Vaccine Court will be made through formal legal procedures and not via in-person request, phone or email solicitation.
4 Tips for Protecting Yourself Against Scams
On its website, the Court of Federal Claims provides 10 tips for avoiding scams. While these tips apply to scams generally (not just those targeting VICP claimants), some of these tips are particularly relevant to individuals who have filed claims under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program. These include:
- Know the red flags for fraud. In most cases, direct solicitations for money or personal information purporting to come from government agencies will be scams.
- Do some research online. You probably are not the first person that the scammers have targeted. If you do some searching, you may be able to find information about the scam online.
- Do not pay in advance. If you receive an unexpected request for an advance payment, do not send payment unless and until you confirm that the request is legitimate. Again, the VICP does not require claimants to pay anything in order to receive compensation (aside from the initial filing fee).
- Talk to someone. If you have any concerns, talk to a vaccine attorney or someone else before you respond to a request for money or personal information.
Speak with Vaccine Attorney Leah V. Durant in Confidence
If you believe that you may be the target of a VICP scam, vaccine attorney Leah V. Durant can help you determine if the request you have received is legitimate. For a free, no-obligation consultation, call 202-800-1711 or request a confidential appointment online today.
Leah Durant Bio
Experienced litigation attorney Leah Durant focuses on representing clients in complex vaccine litigation matters. Leah Durant is the owner and principal attorney of the Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC, a litigation firm based in Washington, DC. Leah Durant and her staff represent clients and their families who suffer from vaccine-related injuries, adverse vaccine reactions and vaccine-related deaths. The Law Offices of Leah V. Durant, PLLC is dedicated to assisting individuals in recovering the highest level of compensation as quickly and efficiently as possible. To learn more, contact vaccine attorney Leah Durant today.