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Beware fraudulent COVID texts offering you a vaccine, watchdog warns

Will Taylor
·News Reporter
·2-min read
A warning has been issued about coronavirus vaccine scams. (PA)
A warning has been issued about coronavirus vaccine scams. (PA)

Britons have been warned to beware fraudulent messages offering access to coronavirus vaccinations.

Text messages are being sent with links to fake NHS websites that ask people for bank details under the pretext of verification, the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) said.

Such messages were put out in the Western Isles of Scotland at the end of December but are “by no means limited to the region”, the CTSI said.

“The [COVID-19] vaccine brings great hope for an end to the pandemic and lockdowns, but some only wish to create even further misery by defrauding others,” said Katherine Hart, lead officer at CTSI.

Read more: Millions more COVID jabs to reach vaccination hubs 'within days’

A fraudulent text and hyperlink offering a coronavirus vaccine. (PA)
A fraudulent text and hyperlink offering a coronavirus vaccine. (PA)

“The NHS will never ask you for banking details, passwords, or PIN numbers and these should serve as instant red flags.

“Do not provide any information to the scammers, but please also report suspicious messages to Action Fraud, or if in Scotland, Police Scotland, as this provides intelligence and assists authorities in combating scams.”

Watch: Will vaccines provide the way out of lockdown?

The CTSI said the texts are the latest “in a series of scams” that have taken advantage of the pandemic since March last year.

In May, just months into the pandemic, Action Fraud said £3.5m had been lost by Britons to COVID-related scams.

That number was spread across 1,713 people and came from bogus emails and calls.

A survey by credit reference agency TransUnion found that 12% of 2,000 people surveyed had been scammed between March and May last year.

Now fraudsters appear to have shifted their focus to vaccines in the wake of the introduction of the Pfizer-BioNTech and Oxford COVID-19 vaccines coming into use.

Watch: The new lockdown rules