A new scam text message is using the NHS COVID pass scheme to steal people’s information. Staffordshire County Council’s Trading Standards team is warning people to be on the lookout for the latest Covid-19 themed scam after receiving a number of reports. The phoney message, which claims to be an official NHS communication, reads: “NHS: We’ve noticed you haven’t applied for your COVID pass, please follow the link to complete registration to avoid fees…”. The message then links to a website that asks the recipient to provide personal details, supposedly for registration purposes but which could be used to commit identity fraud. This latest text scam is similar to an email-based scam witnessed in July, which asked members of the public to get their health passports before they went on holiday. That scam also directed recipients to a phoney website that took personal details which could then be used to commit fraud. Officers are reminding people who receive a text message that seems suspicious in any way, or one that asks for personal or financial details to ignore it and to report it to Citizens Advice. Victoria Wilson, Cabinet Member responsible for Trading Standards at Staffordshire County Council said: “This is the latest in a long list of scams we’ve seen over the past 18 months where criminals try to exploit the Covid-19 pandemic to steal people’s personal details. “Like many other scams through text message, criminals try and trick you into clicking on a fake website where they try and get your personal bank account details. The text may appear genuine but please don’t fall for it. If in doubt, check with a friend or a family member. “Scammers are experts at impersonating organisations and in some cases they will spend time researching you for their scams, hoping you’ll let your guard down for just a moment. Any kind of unsolicited approach should start to ring alarm bells, so please stay alert and watch out for older neighbours and relatives as they can be really vulnerable to scams too.” Throughout the pandemic, Trading Standards officers have received reports on numerous scams, including:
Email scams on home testing kits where you have to pay for the test and are asked for bank details.
Doorstep cleaning services that offer to clean drives and doorways to kill bacteria and help prevent the spread of the virus.
Criminals extorting money from consumers by claiming they are collecting donations for a COVID-19 ‘vaccine’.
Companies offering fake holiday refunds for individuals who have been forced to cancel their trips. People seeking refunds should also be wary of fake websites set up to claim holiday refunds.
People should report scams to the Action Fraud team on 0300 123 2040 or at https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/.