Councils are warning of a new coronavirus-related scam which sees criminals calling or texting individuals and offering a coronavirus vaccination at a cost.
In May 2020, the Local Government Association, which represents councils across England and Wales, warned that some councils had already recorded a 40% increase in reported scams since the pandemic first began.
Council trading standards teams are now receiving reports of scammers calling to offer an appointment to receive a vaccine at a cost or sending a text that directs the recipient to a convincing fake NHS website with a booking link.
The LGA said the COVID-19 vaccine will always be free in the UK and delivered by the NHS.
Patients will be sent a letter by the NHS call/recall service informing them of their eligibility, and receive a call from Primary Care Networks, offering the choice of booking at a GP-led vaccination centre or using the national booking service.
The LGA is urging people who are contacted to remember that any contact regarding a real NHS COVID-19 vaccination booking will never:
- Ask for payment or any bank details
- Ask you to press a button on your keypad when on the phone
- Ask you to send a text to confirm the booking
Anyone who has concerns about whether an approach is genuine should speak to their local GP surgery.
Cllr Nesil Caliskan, chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: ‘With the UK scaling up its COVID-19 vaccinations across the country, ruthless and opportunistic scammers will be looking to take advantage of the rollout.
‘Everyone must remain vigilant to these scams and tell family and friends what to look out for to help avoid them being scammed.
‘The NHS will never charge for a coronavirus vaccine, so anyone claiming to offer you a booking over the phone or online who asks for payment or bank details is attempting to scam you.
‘When you are contacted about your legitimate vaccine, you will be offered to book through your GP or the national booking service, and if you aren’t sure about the call’s validity, call your GP who will be able to confirm this to you.
‘The rollout of the vaccine provides reason to be optimistic and it can be exciting to receive a text or call about it, but we must make sure we don’t get complacent when it comes to scams.’
Photo Credit – Pixabay