Fraudsters have jumped on the hope offered by the Coronavirus vaccine and they're taking advantage of people's eagerness to sign up for an appointment - and often to give away personal information in the process.
Here's what you might encounter, and what the real thing looks like.
The cold caller at the door
Maybe the most blatant example - a fraudster in Nottinghamshire knocked on the door of a 61-year-old woman and attempted to sell a Covid-19 vaccination for £170.
The victim was home alone when a woman knocked on her door, claiming she was there to give her the vaccination.
When the victim told the woman she didn't have the money, the suspect said she could have it for £75 instead.
The victim quickly rang her GP practice and the woman left before any money changed hands.
Nottinghamshire Police say,
The woman has been described as wearing a crinkly black coat, with a hood up, black trousers and a black face mask. She had black hair, with a fringe and carried a small tan leather style shoulder handbag. She flashed an ID badge quickly to the victim, similar to a driving licence.
The fake email
Phishing emails are landing in people's inboxes - which appear to be sent by the NHS.
The email asks you to follow a link to book your vaccination - and you need to fill out extensive personal and financial details.
It may look like this, taking advantage of recognisable NHS colours.
Or it may be slightly less professional looking.
This email was forwarded to West Mercia Police,
"Important public health message, decide whether if you want to get vaccinated, coronavirus covid 19 vaccination NHS, dear Joanna the NHS is performing selections for coronavirus vaccination on the basic of family genetics and medical history, you have been selected to receive a covid 19 vaccination, note that coronavirus is effective it gives you protection against covid19 - use this service to confirm you’d like to receive vaccination you will need to have 2 doses of the covid19 vaccine, book both appointments at the same time”.
The fake text message
A text message, supposedly from NHS England, might pop up on your phone.
It tells you to click on a link to find out more and to “apply” for the vaccine.
The fake phone call
A man claiming to be from a company called PDI or Public Development Institution was reported to West Mercia Police for offering the Coronavirus vaccine.
The fraudster asked for an email address, so he could send over the link to book an appointment.
Police knew it was fake, because the number called from actually belonged to an elderly gentleman who was inundated with calls from people ringing back to check if the company was genuine. He was left very upset.
How can I avoid these scams but still get my vaccine?
You will be contacted by:
- or email with information on how to book your appointment.
Remember: the COVID-19 vaccine is free of charge on the NHS. You will not be asked for any financial details.
The NHS will never ask for:
- your bank account or card details- your pin or banking password- copies of personal documents to prove your identity such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips.
If you have received a letter but not booked an appointment you may get a phone call from the NHS Immunisation Management Service.
This call will be from 0300 561 0240 and will be a reminder to book your COVID-19 vaccination appointments.
The person you speak to will see if you need any help and support. They will not call you to book appointments over the phone.
How can I avoid getting caught out?
Use 2-factor authentication to provide extra protection to your online accounts.
Always double check who is corresponding with you by independently emailing or ringing the organisation.
Check the domain name of the website or the sender's email address to see if it looks suspicious.
Check for spelling errors.
Do not open attachments or click on links in emails or texts from senders you don’t know.
Block any numbers that seem suspicious.
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.
What if I get caught out?