RESIDENTS are being warned to be wary of scammers pretending to be from the NHS as coronavirus contact tracing launches in the UK.
Trading Standards officers are aware that fraudsters pretending to be from the NHS Test and Trace service are trying to con people into handing over personal details.
Contact tracing works by asking people who have tested positive for the virus to share the details of others with whom they have been in contact and to whom they could have passed the virus.
The NHS Test and Trace service will only get in touch with you if you have tested positive for the virus or you’ve been identified as a contact of someone who has tested positive for the virus.
If you’ve been tested, you’ll be contacted no later than 72 hours after taking the test and genuine texts, calls or emails from the NHS service won’t ask you to disclose any personal details upfront.
Anyone testing positive for the virus will be given a unique ID number to log in to the NHS Test and Trace website. The only official web address for the NHS Test and Trace service is: https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk/. Once you’ve logged in using your ID, you’ll be asked to enter some basic information including your name, date of birth, current address, the names of the people you live with, places you’ve recently visited, and the names and contact details of people you were in touch with around 48 hours before you developed symptoms.
If you’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus the NHS will also contact you and you will be asked to self-isolate for 14 days. They will give advice on how to do this, what symptoms you should look out for and what to do if you develop the illness.
The Council’s Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Environment, Highways and Strategic Transport, Councillor Karen Shore said: “The NHS Test and Trace service will never ask residents to share personal information upfront during a call or in a text, so if someone is asking you for such information directly, they’re almost certainly a scammer. They will also never ask for any kind of payment.
“If you get a call about testing positive for coronavirus, but you haven’t taken a test in the past few days or have never taken a coronavirus test, then the call is a scam.
“Our Trading Standards officers advise residents to check the caller or sender’s details carefully. It is shocking that unscrupulous people are taking advantage of the current pandemic to scam people.”
The NHS Test and Trace service will only be contacting people by phone, text message or email. Calls and texts will come from one verified NHS number: 0300 013 5000. However, there’s still a risk of this number being hoaxed. Calls from any other numbers, or from a withheld number, should be treated as fake.
If you’ve received a suspicious Test and Trace message or call you can report it to Action Fraud, the national fraud reporting centre working with the police. Make a note of any details such as numbers and email addresses which will be useful.
If you think you’ve given payment or bank details to a scammer, let your bank know as soon as possible. They’ll be able to help you protect your accounts. If you’ve shared other personal details, keep an eye out for unexpected bills or invoices addressed to you. Check your statements regularly for any new accounts you did not open.