With looser restrictions on mask-wearing and social distancing announced on Thursday for those who have been fully vaccinated, the reminder is timely.
The bureau also advises Americans to stay vigilant about other scams relating to the pandemic.
A statement from the FBI’s Chicago office reminds people that vaccination cards are intended to provide recipients of the coronavirus vaccine with information regarding the type of vaccine they received and their dates of inoculation.
The creation, purchase, or sale of vaccine cards “endangers public safety” by potentially encouraging the spread of the coronavirus amongst unvaccinated people, the FBI says.
Reproducing vaccination cards is specifically illegal, as the unauthorised use of an official government agency’s seal is a crime that may be punishable under Title 18, United States Code, Section 1017, and other federal laws.
Penalties for this can include hefty fines and prison time.
In addition, the FBI also warns Americans that posting photographs of legitimate vaccination cards on social media and elsewhere online could open up an individual to identity theft.
The bureau advises that images of the cards may contain your name, date of birth, insurance information, or more and may be used to steal your identity or commit fraud.
If you have already posted an unredacted picture of your vaccination card to social media, the FBI advises that you remove it immediately.
Further, the agency reminds people to rely on trusted sources like your doctor, the CDC, or your local health departments for information related to both the virus and vaccinations.
Americans are reminded to be skeptical of unsolicited offers of miracle cures or vaccination documents.
This is not the first time that the government has advised Americans about fake vaccination cards. In late March the FBI and Department of Health and Human Services’ inspector general warned the public “to be aware of individuals selling fake Covid-19 vaccination record cards and encouraging others to print fake cards at home.” That notice also warned of internet-based sales.
Only a week ago the owner of a Northern California bar, where authorities say made-to-order fake Covid-19 vaccination cards were sold to undercover state agents for $20 each, was arrested in what officials call the first such foiled operation they are aware of nationwide.
The plainclothes agents from California’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control said they were told at the Old Corner Saloon in Clements to write their names and birthdates on Post-it notes and then watched as employees cut the cards, filled in identifying information and bogus vaccination dates and laminated the finished products.
“On the back where they put the two dates when you were vaccinated, they used two different color pens to make it look like it was two different times,” supervising agent Luke Blehm said on Friday. “So they went to some effort to make it look authentic.”
Action was taken after an anonymous tip to the San Joaquin County Sheriff’s Office.
The FBI asks anyone with information regarding the fraudulent creation or sale of Covid-19 vaccination cards to file a report with them.