Covid-19 Vaccine Scams
As COVID-19 vaccines rollout across the country, fraudsters have been quick to take advantage of this latest development as they have throughout the pandemic. Last week it was reported in the UK that a 92-year-old woman was tricked into paying £160 to a person purporting to be a health service employee and given an ‘injection’ at her home. She was told she would be refunded by the NHS. By the end of the first week in January 2021, Action Fraud had received 57 reports from members of the public of attempted vaccine scams; this is likely the tip of the iceberg.
It appears that fraudsters are specifically targeting the old and vulnerable with this scam, either through cold calling, text messages or emails, claiming to be from the NHS and asking individuals to sign up for a COVID-19 vaccine, which is either fake or non-existent. Part of this process includes asking for personal and financial details, sometimes via websites that look remarkably similar to official NHS sites.
The Government is keen to stress that the vaccine is only available on the NHS and is free of charge. The NHS will never ask for personal or financial details and therefore, if someone receives an email, text message or phone call purporting to be from the NHS and asked to provide these, this is a scam.
The public are asked to remember that the NHS will not:
- Ask for bank account or card details;
- Ask for a PIN or banking password;
- Arrive unannounced at someone’s home to administer the vaccine;
- Demand proof of identity by sending copies of personal documents such as a passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips.
If anyone receives a call believes a call to be fraudulent, hang up. If anyone is suspicious about an email received, forward it to email@example.com. Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to the number 7726 which is free of charge.
Victim of fraud should report incidents to Action Fraud as soon as possible by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk.
Written by Researcher Dr Janice Goldstraw-White