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Watch for scams coinciding with the UK Emergency Alerts test this weekend

Paloma Kubiak
Written By:
Paloma Kubiak

Brits are warned to be on guard against scam texts this Sunday as fraudsters may try to exploit the Government’s UK-wide test of its Emergency Alerts system for their own gain.

This Sunday 23 April at 3pm, the Government will test its Emergency Alerts system, developed to warn mobile phone and tablet users if there’s a danger to life, such as severe flooding, fires or extreme weather.

As part of the test, you will receive a message on your home screen and your phone will sound (a loud siren even if your device is on silent mode) and vibrate for up to 10 seconds before automatically ending.

The message will read: “This is a test of Emergency Alerts, a new UK Government service that will warn you if there’s a life-threatening emergency nearby.”

You don’t need to take any action as this is just a test, and the message can be swiped away as usual.

However, before then, vulnerable groups of people such as domestic abuse victims who may be concealing devices can opt out of the test by turning off Emergency Alerts in phone settings or by switching off the phone.

Emergency scam watch

The nationwide test comes as the Government said “getting this system operational means we have a vital tool to keep the public safe in life-threatening emergencies”, adding “it could be the sound that saves your life”.

However, during this time, scammers may also pounce as they capitalise on Brits’ expectation of receiving the test.

Lisa Webb, Which? scams expert, warned: “Scammers will use any hook they can to try and steal money and personal information from victims, and unfortunately the Government’s upcoming nationwide test of its new Emergency Alerts system will be no exception.

“It’s vital anyone who receives the official test alert is aware that no action is required. If you are asked to download an app or provide information, this is likely to be an unscrupulous fraudster trying to trick you and should be ignored at all costs.

“The Government has said it will be including a website link with more information about the alerts in the message it sends out, but it’s worth considering looking this information up separately through the official Government website rather than risking clicking on lookalike links from fraudsters.”

You can report any scam calls or texts to 7726.

“If you or a loved one do fall victim to a scam then contact your bank immediately and report it to Action Fraud,” Webb added.