There have been suggestions that scammers could use the NHS test and trace service as a method of obtaining personal or financial information from victims.
This scam is a form of number spoofing. This involves scammers making it look like that they’re calling from a different number to the one they’re actually using. In this case, the number they may try to mimic to hide their real identity is the test and trace number – 0300 0135 000.
Phone companies are working hard to make it difficult for scammers to make these calls, but here’s some information that you might find useful.
Of course, it’s important that if you receive a genuine call from the test and trace service, you should be able to trust it and act on the information you’re being given.
So, here’s some advice on what to expect from a genuine test and trace call.
The only website the service will ask you to visit is https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk.
On a genuine call, contact tracers will never:
- ask you to dial a premium rate number (for example, those starting 09 or 087);
- ask you to make any form of payment;
- ask for any details about your bank account;
- ask for your social media identities or login details, or those of your contacts;
- ask you for any passwords or PINs, or ask you to set up any passwords or PINs over the phone;
- ask you to purchase a product – including a test;
- ask you to download any software to your device or ask you to hand over control of your PC, smartphone or tablet;
- ask you to access any website that does not belong to the Government or NHS.
If you receive a call from somebody claiming to be from the NHS, and they ask you to do any of these things, hang up and report the call:
Action Fraud 0300 123 2040
or by visiting its website
Example of a scam phone call:
“Good morning, I’m calling from the NHS track and trace service. According to our system, you are likely to have been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. This means that you now need to self-isolate for 7 days and take a COVID-19 test.”
“OK. Can you tell me who that person was?”
“I’m not able to tell you that. That is confidential information.”
“Right. Um… so…”
But you do need to be tested within the next 72 hours. So can I just get the best mailing address so that we can send a kit to you?”
“Ok (gives address)”
“Thank you – and I just need to take a payment card so that we can finalise this and send the kit to you.”
“Sorry – a payment card? I thought this was all free?”
“No – I’m afraid not. There is a one-off fee of £50 for the kit, and test results. Could you read off the long card number for me, please, when you’re ready.”
“No – that’s not right. This is part of the NHS so there’s no charge.”
“I’m afraid there is. Can you give me the card number please – this is very important, and there are penalties for not complying.”
Puts phone down.
This is how scammers work. And vulnerable people will fall for it.