Croydon Council’s trading standards team is warning residents about a text message scam that pretends to offer Covid vaccines as a way to access their financial details and steal money.
The text message claims to be from the NHS and tells recipients that they are eligible to apply for the new coronavirus vaccine and to click on a weblink to apply.
The link then takes visitors to a fake website which looks genuine and asks the user to complete a form with their name, date of birth, address, proof of address, as well as their payment card details.
This fake text message and website is a scam because the Covid vaccine is free of charge. The NHS will never send a text asking you to confirm whether you want the vaccine, and never ask for payment or for your bank details.
The council’s trading standards team has this week sent a bulletin message to hundreds of Croydon individuals and community organisations, including neighbourhood watch groups and churches, urging them to beware of any requests for bank or card details to “check your identity”.
The scam – and a similar one involving an automated phone call – was flagged by national consumer champion organisation Which?, and warnings about the bogus text message and website have been shared this week via social media, including from Croydon officers at the Metropolitan Police.
For information on what to do when unsure whether a government text message is genuine, the National Cyber Security Centre has produced a leaflet setting out what steps members of the public can take to spot bogus messages. This leaflet includes advice that genuine text messages from the UK government will only come from “UK_Gov” and will only ever direct the public to GOV.UK/coronavirus.
The council website also has wider tips on avoiding falling victim to a scam, either in person or online.
“The Covid vaccine is free of charge to members of the public, and a genuine NHS representative would never ask for money or your bank details.
“If you receive a text message or a phone call like this about a Covid vaccine and you are asked for your financial details, it is a scam. You should report it as soon as possible so the authorities can take action.”
Councillor David Wood, cabinet member for communities, safety and resilience
Action Fraud, the national fraud and cyber crime reporting centre, advises that if you are suspicious about a text message you have received, it should be forwarded to the number 7726 which is free of charge.
If you have been the victim of a fraud, call Action Fraud on 0300 123 3040. To report a crime in progress, suspects at the scene or a person in immediate danger, call 999.
To sign up to the council’s trading standards alerts and to receive their quarterly bulletin, email: firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject heading Information Bulletin.