The message, which claims to be an official communication from the National Health Service (NHS), reads: “NHS: We’ve noticed you haven’t applied for your COVID pass, please follow the link to complete registration to avoid fees…”. The message then links to a website made to look like a real NHS platform that asks the recipient to provide personal details, supposedly for registration purposes, but which could be used to undertake identity fraud.
This text scam is similar to an email-based scam witnessed in July, which implored members of the public to get their health passports before they went on holiday. That scam also directed recipients to a phoney website that took personal details which could be used to commit fraud.
CTSI Chief Executive John Herriman said: “Since the first COVID-19 lockdown in March 2020, CTSI has witnessed countless scams themed around the pandemic. I have received many fake COVID-19 messages myself, and I don’t think a single person hasn’t received one. It appals me just how relentless the fraudsters are and how unscrupulous they are to target the public at a time of unprecedented vulnerability.
“We need a national conversation about public protection, and on how enforcement agencies including trading standards can adapt their methods to meet the challenge of a fast-evolving threat from fraudsters in our increasingly digitalised economy. I look forward to the upcoming CTSI Symposium in Birmingham next month, which will bring together trading standards and other consumer protection professionals from across the country to discuss this, among many other pressing issues.”
CTSI Lead Officer, Katherine Hart, said: “The public should apply for an NHS COVID Pass or vaccination certificates on the official platforms, which are different, depending on if they are resident in England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland.
“Whenever we receive these messages, we should not only avoid these scams, but also report them to Action Fraud, or if in Scotland, contact Police Scotland. By reporting scams, authorities can build a fuller picture of this dangerous fraud blighting communities throughout the United Kingdom.”
For consumer advice, please call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133
The public is encouraged to join Friends Against Scams, a National Trading Standards initiative that protects and prevents people from becoming scam victims by empowering them to take a stand against scams.
This topic and many others related to consumer protection will be discussed at this year’s CTSI Symposium 28-30 September 2021 at Birmingham’s Eastside Rooms. Click this link for more information about CTSI Symposium.
Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI)
CTSI is a training and membership organisation that has represented the interests of the Trading Standards profession since 1881 nationally and internationally. We aim to raise the profile of the profession while working towards fairer, better informed and safer consumer and business communities. CTSI’s members are engaged in delivering frontline trading standards services in local authorities and in businesses. www.tradingstandards.uk