As 2021 takes shape, we all are itching for life to inch back towards normal. Pandemic patience remains necessary, but for people of all walks of life and in every corner of the country, it can at times run thin. The rapid development of several effective vaccines has placed relatively feasible timelines on, or at least the possibility of, mass immunization that can once again open up our lives and businesses to the outside world.
And while this makes room for a more than needed sigh of relief, the vaccination process itself is proving slower than anticipated, rife with complications and confusion. Many people who are currently attempting to get on a wait list or to make an appointment are hitting hurdles along the way. While this might be expected with the sheer number of people hoping for a jab, what’s not expected is that your credit history may actually be a determining factor in the vaccination process.
A Credit Check for a Vaccination, Really?
You’re not alone if reading that last sentence caused you to scratch your head or raise a brow. Credit checks during a worldwide emergency for something that is intended to be a public service to beat back a generational crisis does indeed seem outlandish. First impressions might cause you to think that this will immediately impact anyone experiencing hardships caused by the pandemic. Should bad credit affect your ability to get protected from a deadly disease? Surely, it should not.
The issue with credit checks and vaccines is not actually a problem with a credit score, but rather with a lack of credit history. Some vaccine providers and government organizations have placed these checks within the vaccination process in an attempt to verify individual identities and to confirm eligibility. With vaccines initially in short supply and a focus on getting the older demographic of the population protected, this makes sense. On paper, anyway.
Credit Monitoring Companies and Vaccination Verification
Having identity verification measures in place can help confirm an individual is who they say they are when attempting to sign up for a vaccination appointment and that they fall into the proper phase for vaccine eligibility. Problems arise when credit monitoring companies are included into this verification process.
There have been instances of people attempting to sign up for a vaccination through websites set up by various medical providers in the US and abroad and then running into issues when credit monitoring companies, such as Experian and TransUnion, are thrown in the mix. The sites using these credit monitoring services are trying to build a layer of defense against fraud but are along the way they are inadvertently further complicating the already confusing process and turning away legitimate citizens who are patiently waiting their turn for a vaccination.
The credit reporting agencies will often use something called remote identity proofing to verify an individual for a vaccine. This same sort of verification is often used in typical healthcare situations where identity verification is needed. A major flaw here is that this type of proofing is only just over 75% effective and will not work for anyone who has been a victim of identity theft or has no credit history. 1Simply stated, the credit reporting agencies know that they cannot fully confirm the accuracy of their services, despite their best efforts to do so.
This issue shows up when someone has begun to make a vaccination appointment using an online reservation appointment system. The would-be vaccination customer/patient enters all of the necessary individual information to get started and then is directed to an “Identity Confirmation Page” or the like that points to a check by the credit reporting agencies. The idea is that by checking the information on file with the reporting agencies, the patient’s identity can be verified, and the vaccination process can be confirmed. While this often works out without a hitch and can prevent fraudulent appointments, it is also leading to false flags on real people and scaring those with limited credit history or poor credit from completing the process.
How This Could Affect You?
While it is, in fact, illegal for you to be turned away from a potential COVID vaccination because of your credit score, a lack of credit history can cause problems with the reporting agencies verifying your identity. Many individuals have limited credit or a lack of recent credit history that can complicate the verification process. And either of these factors can cause a problem with confirming your identity with the services arranging for your vaccination.
These inquires won’t impact your credit score, but simply seeing an Experian or TransUnion link can make people leery of the process and discourage them away from getting a deserved vaccine. The online systems set up to secure a vaccine are proving difficult enough, and with another potentially complicated step thrown in, it can be easy to throw in the towel unnecessarily.
If you are denied the option to book a vaccination appointment because your identity cannot be confirmed, you can attempt to reach out to the vaccination service provider to clear things up. You may need to try again through their system, or use another service altogether, to become verified. If you have been a victim of identity theft in the past, this could potentially be the problem and you again might need to attempt other methods of finding a vaccination reservation. If you are not aware that you have any instance of identity theft, the incident could have occurred recently without your knowledge and that may well be impacting your ability to secure a vaccination. Identity theft restoration services can help you uncover any ongoing attempts to access or use your personal information.
Unfortunately, the rapidly developing and constantly changing nature of the vaccine rollout program means that these issues exist without a direct solution. It is important to be aware of how your credit history might affect your ability to get a vaccination. If you are reading this, you are most likely more informed than the average person into issues surrounding identity theft, credit reporting, and cyber fraud. Be sure to share this information with anyone who might not be aware as the information can help them navigate a complicated and difficult situation that can directly impact their well-being. We all can do our part to help reach the finish line and help end the pandemic.
LibertyID provides expert, full service, fully managed identity theft restoration to individuals, couples, extended families* and businesses. LibertyID has a 100% success rate in resolving all forms of identity fraud on behalf of our subscribers.
*Extended families – primary individual, their spouse/partner, both sets of parents (including those that have been deceased for up to a year), and all children under the age of 25