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Consumer Alert: How to determine if a COVID-19 vaccine trial offer is real or fake

Published: Nov. 8, 2020 at 12:51 PM CST
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - If you’ve received an e-mail offer to make money joining a COVID-19 vaccine trial, you’re probably wondering how to figure out if it’s real or fake.

Thousands of people are participating in COVID-19 vaccine trials right now, and an offer to join in had one of our viewers questioning if it was a ploy to get personal information.

She told Action 2 News she had received an e-mail from Acurian Health saying that volunteers are needed for COVID-19 vaccine studies, and volunteers could earn up to $1,200.

She asked who Acurian Health was, and if it was a scam.

We then reached out to Acurian Health on Facebook to ask, and received what looks like an automated response that directed us to their website, which says they’re a global company that connects people with clinical research studies, and that it does not do the testing.

The website lists multiple active studies, including COVID-19.

When you click on COVID-19, you’re asked to answer multiple health related questions.

We then asked the Better Business Bureau what they know about Acurian Health.

“Now this particular company has an F rating with the BBB, which is our lowest rating. It’s had 24 complaints in the last three months, 7 negative reviews, but we know that there’s been a lot of interest about this particular company. We’ve had 6,000 inquiries since August, so we know they’re doing a lot of marketing. And it seems like it’s a marketing company whose job it is to procure people for clinical trials,” said Susan Bach of the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin.

Both the BBB and the Wisconsin Department of Consumer Protection say there are ways to tell a real trial from a fake.

“So, a legitimate trial would never ask you to pay up front to be a part of the study. A legitimate trial is never going to ask you for personal information like your social security number, they will ask you lots of personal information about your medical history and things like that that could affect or impact the trial, but not your social security number, so watch for those things,” added Bach.

“The National Institutes of Health and National Library of Medicine maintain a free, searchable database with a variety of clinical research, look there to see legitimate trials,” said Lara Sutherlin of the Wisconsin Division of Trade and Consumer Protection.

The Federal Trade Commission put out an alert about COVID-19 trials because scammers might make prey on our natural desire to help others.

If you’re interested in signing up for a trial, CLICK HERE to learn more about approved trials.

Before participating, you should talk to your health care provider and learn about the risks and potential benefits.

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