Why You Should Not Post a Photo of Your Vaccination Certificate Online

With the excitement of finally being vaccinated for COVID-19, some people share photos of their vaccination certificates online. Being excited is okay, but you should be careful not to post a photo of your vaccination certificate online. Identity thieves constantly scour the internet looking for information about you. They can piece this information together to recreate your identity and use it for their criminal activities.

What do you give away when you post a photo of your vaccination certificate?  Information

The vaccination certificate you receive after your COVID-19 vaccine shot includes your name, date of birth, and the time and location of your vaccination. Therefore, by sharing this certificate online, you risk having sensitive data fall into the wrong hands.

Advising against posting your certificate, the Federal Trade Commission said in a blog post, “think of it this way – identity theft works like a puzzle, made up of personal information. You don’t want to give identity thieves the pieces they need to finish the picture. Once identity thieves have the pieces they need, they can use the information to open new accounts in your name, claim your tax refund for themselves, and engage in other identity fraud.”

Even with privacy settings activated on your social media sites, your information may still get out.  Your friends can share the photo with their friends, who might not be in your circle or among the people you trust.

Lost HIPAA Protection

The United States passed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, which protects sensitive patient data. The law’s goal is to prevent exposure of your sensitive data without your consent or knowledge. However, when you share the information on your vaccination certificate, you lose HIPAA protection.

The vaccination certificate contains your personal information in addition to a potential medical record number that links back to you. This means that criminals can use the information to commit medical identity theft or hack into patient portals.

Interference with Your Second Shot

According to healthcare experts, posting your vaccination certificate online could offer criminals critical information that you are not even aware of, such as geotagging data. This information could be used to determine your location, recreate fake vaccination certificates, and potentially interfere with your ability to get the second shot.

What to Do Instead

If you still want to share the news that you received a vaccine against the virus, you can share other less revealing details that come with no consequences. For example, you can share:

  • A vaccination sticker
  • A photo of your arm showing where you received the short
  • A flyer that indicates you have been vaccinated
  • A text-only post that captures your excitement for receiving the vaccine without revealing any sensitive information
  • Blur the details and sensitive information on your certificate using photo editing software

Bottom Line

People are excited about receiving the vaccine and share photos of their vaccination certificates online. However, this puts them at risk of identity theft. Experts continue to emphasize the importance of protecting your sensitive data. This includes  your date of birth, the place where you got the vaccine, or even the birth dates of your children.  Sharing these could put you at the risk of identity theft.

However, if you have already shared your vaccination certificate online, RKN Global notes that you can still delete the picture, adjust your privacy settings, and ensure that you know the people following your personal accounts.




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Ronald K. Noble is the founder of RKN Global and currently serves as one of its principal consultants.