Tech & The Web

Privacy Experts: Don’t Post COVID-19 Vaccination Card


Have you gotten a dose of the COVID-19 vaccine? More importantly, if you have, did you post a selfie with your COVID-19 vaccination card?

I received my first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine two weeks ago. With it, I received a COVID-19 vaccination card. It listed my name, date of birth, and the lot number of my vaccine dose.

The fact that they hand out such a card with that level of detail seems a bit disturbing on the surface. I don’t recall ever receiving such a card with my annual flu shot.

In any case, many people have taken to posting selfies holding their vaccination card. It took practically no time for this to become common practice. When I look at my Instagram or Facebook feeds, I see examples all the time.

I view the cards as sending a positive message of togetherness. We’re all committed to helping each other get through this. Some of us choose to do that by taking the vaccine.

I think that’s a good thing.

Krispy Kreme just announced that everyone who has a vaccination card can show it at one of their participating restaurants as often as once a day, every day for the rest of the year to receive a free Original Glazed doughnut!

If that’s not an incentive to keep track of that little card, I don’t know what is.

But privacy experts warn of a risk in showing off that card.

The Better Business Bureau said posting those tempting selfies could make you a scammer’s target. Security expert Adam Coughran told KTNV-TV information as simple as your birthday and name can be all a scammer needs.

The Federal Trade Commission compared identity theft to a jigsaw puzzle.

“You don’t want to give identity thieves the pieces they need to finish the picture,” the agency said in a blog post. “One of those pieces is your date of birth.”

While it may be hard to imagine, the FTC says with your date of birth, identity thieves “sometimes can guess most of the digits of your Social Security number.”

Once they have just enough information, they can open new accounts in your name — including credit card accounts — and even claim your tax refund.

How likely is it that this could happen? Well, it depends on how convincing a scammer is with the information your card provides. Suppose you receive a call about your vaccine dose from a caller who knows your name, date of birth and the lot number of your vaccine dose. They read it out to you as you verify what’s on your vaccine card. They know it because they saw it in a selfie. But if you forget you posted it and think your doctor’s office is calling, particularly if they scare you into thinking there’s a problem, you might just let your guard down long enough to give out information you shouldn’t.

It could be just that easy.

Some articles are referring to the seemingly innocent vaccination card selfies as “humblebrags.” If you really want to brag, then brag.

But at least be prudent. Make sure if your selfie shows the card, you blur any readable information.

Or, even better, show off your card at Krispy Kreme, not your social media feed. The reward will unquestionably be sweeter that way.

Patrick is a Christian with more than 30 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.