Scammers prey on the vulnerable charging for vaccines they don’t have and stealing financial data

Around the UK, there are reports of dangerous, fake NHS text messages circulating, telling people that they’re eligible to apply for the COVID-19 vaccine.

The link takes you to an extremely convincing fake NHS website that asks for personal details including bank/card details.

Buckinghamshire Council’s Trading Standards team are also receiving information that cold calls regarding the vaccine are taking place, where scammers are asking people to pay for the vaccine over the phone.

Most of these vaccine scams are targeting elderly residents who receive a cold call to advise that their vaccination would be carried out in their home, and that the caller requires their name, address and also financial details to pay for the vaccine.

Other reports relate to approaches made by text and from a recorded voice message on the telephone. In each case the recipient is required to respond by clicking a link in the text message or by pressing 1 when receiving the call. They are then asked to give personal information, as well as financial details to book their vaccination.

Fred Wilson, Buckinghamshire Council Member for Regulatory Services says “I am very disappointed that at a time when many people are seeing the vaccine as hope for the future, scammers are trying to cash in.”

He adds, “It’s important to remember the vaccine is free and the NHS will never require you to hand over financial details in exchange for it.”

Key messages:

  • The vaccine is free and only available from the NHS who will contact you when it is your turn. At present, appointments are only being offered to the public who are over 80 years old, workers in care homes and NHS staff.
  • The NHS will NEVER ask you to press a button on your keypad or send a text to confirm you want to receive the vaccine, and NEVER ask for payment or for your bank details.

For information on the Buckinghamshire vaccine programme, which details who is being vaccinated, vaccination sites and the number of residents vaccinated so far, please visit our COVID-19 vaccination programme webpage.

As with all cold call fraud Trading Standards advice is:-

  • Never engage with someone or allow them access to your home unless you are able to verify their authenticity and who they are.
  • Be sceptical, stay calm, and don’t be afraid to hang up, bin it, delete it or shut the door

Report all scams to Trading Standards via Citizens Advice Consumer Service on 0808 223 1133 or if a person feels threatening phone 999.

To deter visits from cold callers, residents can display a no cold calling sticker by their front doors. To obtain a Stop Cold Calling Sticker Pack or to report an incident please contact Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading Standards via the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.

Keep informed on the latest scams affecting your area by following Buckinghamshire and Surrey Trading on facebook and twitter.