New coronavirus scam as criminals try to con people out of money pretending to be from NHS Test and Trace service

Criminals are pretending to be from the NHS Test and Trace Service, in a "sick" and "worrying" scam.

By Susie Beever
Saturday, 20th June 2020, 6:00 am

Local authorities are warning of the fraud after multiple reports of people receiving bogus phone calls, emails and text messages asking for bank details to obtain a testing kit through the NHS.

The kit in reality is free and funded by the Government.

The Test and Trace Service works by contacting those who have had close contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19, telling them to self-isolate for 14 days.

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There have been multiple reports of people receiving bogus phone calls and messages asking for bank details for coronavirus testing kits

Victims of the scam will receive messages or a phone claiming to be from the service, informing them they need to quarantine and pay for a test.

The scammers will refuse to disclose who the victim has been in contact with who has the virus, but asks them to confirm their address so a testing kit can be sent. Bank card details are then requested – purportedly to cover the cost of the testing kit.

The Local Government Association (LGA) is urging people to be aware of the scam and has reminded the public that the NHS will never ask for payment, bank details or passwords, to disclose personal health details, to download software or to call a premium rate number.

Cllr Simon Blackburn, Chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, called the scam "sickening", saying it was exploiting people's fears.

NHS Test and Trace in England.

He said: “Scammers don’t care about people’s safety and this latest scam is another worrying and sickening attempt to trick people out of their money by preying on the public’s fears.

“Councils across the country are playing a key role in supporting the NHS Test and Trace Service and on plans to manage local outbreaks. This ruthless scam undermines this vital work to save lives by exploiting people who want to do the right thing and stop the spread of the virus.

“People may be contacted by the Test and Trace Service by text, email or phone, but the official tracers will never ask you to make any payment or for your bank details."

Research by Citizens Advice has indicated that one in three people have been targeted by scammers since lockdown began.

A coronavirus testing facility in Leeds, as NHS Test and Trace is rolled out across England.

The Government’s official website for the Test and Trace scheme says calls will come from a single phone number – 0300 013 5000 – or via text messages sent from “NHS”.

Mr Blackburn added: “Councils are determined to protect residents from this latest scam and a surge in other scams reported to them during the lockdown period. We urge people to report scams to help prevent someone becoming a victim, particularly those who are more vulnerable.

"It’s important that everybody – relevant business such as banks, family, friends and neighbours - works together to prevent fraud from happening in the first place and stop fraudsters taking advantage at this time of national crisis.”

An example of the real NHS Test and Trace message