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New coronavirus contact tracing app fraud warning

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The new Covid-19 contact tracing app is open to fraud, warns Trading Standards, ahead of its national release.

The government is currently trialling a new coronavirus contact tracing app on the Isle of Wight and it is expected to be rolled out to the UK later in the year.

However, The Chartered Trading Standards Institute said it had received evidence of a phishing scam themed around the app, ahead of the real app’s launch around the country.

People have received texts informing them they’ve come into contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19.

The message contains a link to a bogus website which asks for their personal details. Scammers can then use the information to gain access to bank accounts and commit other forms of identity fraud.

Since March, scams related to the coronavirus have surged, with Action Fraud reporting that Covid-19 scammers have stolen over £2m.

And once the coronavirus contact tracing app is launched nationally, experts fear more scams will be released.

CTSI lead officer, Katherine Hart, said: “We have witnessed a surge in Covid-19-related scams since lockdown began. This evidence is yet another example of scammers modifying their campaigns as the situation develops.

“I’m especially concerned that scams themed around the contact tracing app are already appearing, even though the official NHS app has only been released in a limited testing phase on the Isle of Wight.

“These texts are a way to steal personal data and may put the bank accounts of recipients at risk. If anyone receives texts or other kinds of messages like this, they should not click on any accompanying links, and report them to Action Fraud.”

To report scams, visit the Action Fraud website, or if in Scotland, call Police Scotland on 101.

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