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Fake NHS covid-19 vaccine text message

Last year it was scams about PPE, now it’s covid vaccines. Police warn that a fake NHS text message has recently been circulating, claiming that people are eligible to apply for the covid-19 vaccine.

The scam message reads “we have identified that your are eligible to apply for your vaccine” and then prompts you to click on a link for further information or to ‘apply’ for the vaccine.

This URL takes you to what police term an extremely convincing fake NHS website, where fraudsters are attempting to coerce people into divulging personal or financial information.

Police advice is that if you receive a text or email that asks you to click on a link or for you to provide information, such as your name, credit card or bank details, it’s a scam. Any text message containing a link should be treated with caution. The best way to find information from GOV.UK, or any other agency, is to visit that particular website via a trusted source (such as through Google or Bing) and do not click on links in unsolicited texts or emails.

Cold calls regarding the vaccine are also beginning to take place, where scammers are asking people to pay for the vaccine over the phone. If you receive one of these calls, hang up.

In October the crime reporting charity Crimestoppers with the UK Government launched a Covid Fraud Hotline (0800 587 5030) for people to anonymously and free of charge to report suspected fraud.

Police acknowledge that it can be difficult to tell genuine messages apart from the fake. They advise:

Do not open attachments or click on links in emails or texts from senders you don’t know.
Never give out personal information, financial details or passwords in response to an email, text or phone call without verifying that the person is who they claim to be.
Block any numbers that arouse suspicion.
Set up spam filters on all of your accounts.
Always go to a website directly, by typing out the address yourself, when logging into an account.
Look out for fake websites by sense-checking the domain name.
Keep an eye out for numerous spelling mistakes in messages, these are normally linked to phishing emails and texts.

Comment

At the cyber firm Kaspersky, David Emm, Principal Security Researcher said: “Cyber-criminals are always on the lookout for topical issues they can exploit to trick the unwary into installing malware or disclosing personal information that can be used to access their online accounts. The latest advancements in the COVID-19 vaccine provides them with the perfect storm – it’s a topic that’s of interest to everyone around the world and one that is persistent. Cybercriminals are exploiting the disruption caused by the pandemic through a range of phishing and malware attacks. These include messages telling recipients they are ‘eligible to apply for your vaccine’ with a link to a bogus NHS website. With the coronavirus outbreak making the headlines daily, scams are only becoming more credible and convincing and people must remain vigilant.”


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