Fake NHS Covid vaccine scam texts are being sent - how to spot them

Members of the public should remain vigilant over fraudulent text messages related to Covid vaccines, falsely claiming to be from the NHS.

Scammers are using a variety of methods to attempt to trick people into sharing important personal information, including bank details and addresses, under the guise of offering appointments to receive the vaccine.

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One scam message - which has been shared on social media along with warnings to ignore it - claims to be from the NHS and includes a link, supposedly to allow the recipient to arrange their vaccine appointment.

What does the text say?

The message reads: “NHS: We have identified that your [sic] are eligible to apply for your vaccine. For more information and to apply, follow here: uk-application-form.com”.

If followed, the link originally took users through to a landing page which had the NHS logo on it and a request for personal information and/or bank details to “prove ownership of address”.

While the web page originally linked in the message now seems to have been taken down, variants or updated versions of the same or similar message could be distributed with a new web address.

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It is believed that various versions of this scam exist, with different wordings, and in some instances people have received calls asking for personal information to arrange their vaccine, rather than text messages.

In rare instances, fraudsters have even attempted to con people out of money and/or personal information in person by pretending to be either part of or working on behalf of the NHS.

Police are looking for a man in London who recently administered an unidentified jab to a 92 year old woman, after claiming to be distributing the Covid vaccine on behalf of the NHS, and charging her £160.

How can I tell if calls or messages about the vaccine are fraudulent?

In a blog post, NHS Sussex wrote: “We are aware that some people are receiving fraudulent calls and text messages offering the COVID-19 vaccination. In some cases, people are asked to press a number on their keypad or to send a text message to confirm they wish to receive the vaccine. Doing so is likely to result in a charge being applied to their phone bill. In other cases, callers are offering the vaccine for a fee or asking for bank details.

People are warned to be alert to these scams.

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“The vaccine is only available from the NHS and the NHS will contact you when it is your turn.

“The NHS will NEVER ask you to press a button on your keypad or send a text to confirm you want the vaccine, and NEVER ask for payment or for your bank details.

“If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up. If you believe you have been the victim of fraud or identity theft you should report this directly to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040. Where the victim is vulnerable, report it to the Police online or by calling 101.”