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Warning about Covid-19 pass scam

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Written by: Emma Lunn
20/08/2021
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has been sent evidence of a text scam themed around the NHS Covid pass.

The message, which claims to be an official communication from the NHS, says: “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 John Herriman, chief executive, 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.”

Katherine Hart, CTSI lead officer, 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.”

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