Police issue urgent warning over scary Covid-19 vaccine scam

covid vaccine scam
(Image credit: Photo by Joris Verwijst/BSR Agency/Getty Images)

Police have warned people to watch out for scammers using fake NHS text messages about the Covid-19 vaccine to steal bank details.

With the new Covid-19 vaccine providing hope that this pandemic will come to an end soon, it seems that scammers are looking to take advantage.

Police forces and local authorities have shared warnings about scam texts that have emerged, claiming to be from the NHS, offering the coronavirus vaccination.

What is the Covid-19 vaccine scam?

The scam texts which purportedly come from the NHS link to a fake NHS website page.

The recipient of the text is told they are eligible for the new Covid-19 vaccine. The scammers then say that in order to receive the vaccine, you must give over your bank or credit card details for 'identification' purposes.

Which police forces have warned against this scam?

Hackney Police were amongst those sharing the warning for people to be vigilant. Posting on Twitter, they showed an example of the kinds of fake text messages that could be received.

They advised, 'Do not provide your payment details or any personal details in links attached’ and reminded followers ‘When your GP contacts you about the vaccine, they will not ask for payment!

And they are not the only force to have done so, as police in Lincolnshire have reportedly also issued a similar warning.

According to The Lincolnite, Lincolnshire Police said that cold calls asking for personal or financial details, or asking people to pay over the phone to access the vaccine, have been reported.

They add that the force said, “Any text or emails containing URLs should always be treated with caution and we’d urge members of the public to avoid clicking links in unsolicited texts or emails.”

What should you do if you think you’ve been targeted by scammers?

Claer Barrett, Consumer Editor at the Financial Times also shared the news with her Twitter followers.

In her Tweet, she shared how the Covid-19 vaccine scam was ‘spreading fast’. Claer then gave details of what to do if you think you've received a scam message.

She wrote, ‘In all cases, breathe, and take a step back. If it’s an unprompted link on a text, asking for lots of personal details and your credit card number, it’s almost certainly a scam. If you’re not sure, phone a friend’. 

Police have also said, "Texts or emails that ask you to provide information such as your name, date of birth or financial details are scams and if you’re ever unsure about these types of messages, ignore or delete them.”

If you think you've been the victim of online scammers, contact your bank immediately. It's also important  to report it to Action Fraud online or by calling 0300 123 2040. 

It’s always better to be safe than sorry. 

Emma Shacklock
Senior Lifestyle Writer

Emma is a Senior Lifestyle Writer with six years of experience working in digital publishing, ranging from book publishing to magazines. She currently looks after all things Lifestyle for Woman&Home, Goodto.com, and My Imperfect Life.