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Coronavirus: Warning over Test & Trace scams

Coronavirus: Warning over Test & Trace scams

Published by May Norman at 10:59am 24th June 2020.

‘Be vigilant’

  • Bradford Council issues a new warning on NHS Test and Trace scams.
  • There are reports of fraudsters posing as people from the programme, attempting to get personal information from victims.
  • More advice has been issued to raise awareness of the scams.

Bradford Council is urging residents across the district to remain vigilant after being alerted to new reports of fraudsters posing as people from the NHS Test and Trace programme.

Launched at the end of last month, NHS Test and Trace is playing an increasingly-important role in halting the spread of coronavirus, with contact tracers getting in touch with those who have had recent close contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.

However, the council is concerned that the system continues to be targeted by scammers, who are pretending to be contact tracers in a bid to trick people into parting with their personal information.

To help protect residents from falling victim to cybercrime, the council has issued the following information to make it easier for people to know if they are genuinely being contacted by the NHS Test and Trace Contact service:

  • If the NHS Test and Trace service contacts you, the service will use text messages, email or phone.
  • All texts or emails will ask you to sign into the NHS test and trace contact-tracing website.
  • If NHS Test and Trace calls you by phone, the service will be using a single phone number: 0300 013 5000.
  • All information you provide to the NHS Test and Trace service is held in strict confidence and will only be kept and used in line with the Data Protection Act 2018.

Contact tracers will:

  • Call you from 0300 013 5000
  • Send you text messages from ‘NHS’
  • Ask you to sign into the NHS test and trace contact-tracing website
  • Ask for your full name and date of birth to confirm your identity, and postcode to offer support while self-isolating
  • Ask about the coronavirus symptoms you have been experiencing
  • Ask you to provide the name, telephone number and/or email address of anyone you have had close contact with in the two days prior to your symptoms starting
  • Ask if anyone you have been in contact with is under 18 or lives outside of England

Contact tracers will never:

  • Ask you to dial a premium rate number to speak to us (for example, those starting 09 or 087)
  • Ask you to make any form of payment or purchase a product or any kind
  • Ask for any details about your bank account
  • Ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts
  • Ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone
  • Disclose any of your personal or medical information to your contacts
  • provide medical advice on the treatment of any potential coronavirus symptoms
  • Ask you to download any software to your PC or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet to anyone else
  • Ask you to access any website that does not belong to the government or NHS

They will ask you:

  • If you have family members or other household members living with you. In line with the medical advice they must remain in self-isolation for the rest of the 14-day period from when your symptoms began
  • If you have had any close contact with anyone other than members of your household. We are interested in in the 48 hours before you developed symptoms and the time since you developed symptoms. Close contact means:
  • - having face-to-face contact with someone (less than a metre away)
  • - spending more than 15 minutes within two metres of someone 
  • - travelling in a car or other small vehicle with someone (even on a short journey) or close to them on a plane 
  • If you work in – or have recently visited – a setting with other people (for example, a GP surgery, a school or a workplace)

They will ask you to provide, where possible, the names and contact details (for example, email address, telephone number) for the people you have had close contact with. As with your own details these will be held in strict confidence and will be kept and used only in line with data protection laws.

Leader of Bradford Council, Councillor Susan Hinchcliffe, said:

“Unfortunately, we have been alerted to a number of scams where fraudsters are taking advantage of the pandemic to deceive people – many of whom are elderly or vulnerable - into parting with money or personal details.

“The scams range from premium rate phone numbers, to requests for sensitive personal information, and even demands for payments as high as £500 for a testing kit.

“We wouldn’t naturally know what to expect of a new service like NHS Test and Trace, so sadly it’s all too easy to see how people might fall victim – particularly if they are already concerned about their health and wellbeing.”

Bradford Council’s Executive Member for Healthy People and Places, Councillor Sarah Ferriby, added:

“It’s important that we all work together to spread the word as widely as possible, through social media, family chats and other channels, and stop fraudsters taking advantage at this time of crisis.”

“It is vital that everyone remains on guard if they are contacted, and never disclose personal or financial details over the phone. If you think that someone has tried to contact you under false pretences or you have been the victim of a fraudster, then please report it to Action Fraud.”

Find out more about the NHS Test and Trace service.

If you have been a victim of fraud or cybercrime, please report it to Action Fraud or by calling 0300 123 2040 or using this online reporting tool.