As if we haven’t all had enough to deal with and worry about since the outset of the COVID-19 (Coronavirus) pandemic, the situation has unfortunately been exploited by fraudsters with fake offers of vaccinations. At times of disasters and other crises, there is invariably an increase in fraudulent activity, for example, bogus charity donation requests. The current pandemic, unprecedented in its effects and global reach – is no exception. A massive increase in reliance on the internet and people’s concerns about their and loved ones’ health, wellbeing and finances have combined to create ideal conditions for fraud.
Over the last year, commonplace COVID-19-related scams have included fake advertisements for PPE to priority online shopping slots, HMRC monetary grants to travel refund services, and fake NHS Test & Trace messages informing recipients that they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive, and need to buy a home testing kit. A more complete list can be found at
With the UK vaccination programme in full swing, the most recent wave of scams has focused on fraudulent offers of vaccinations, attempting to persuade recipients that they can ‘jump the queue’.
The scams, which are perpetrated via email, text or telephone call, either request payment for a vaccination, or link to authentic looking but fake websites which harvest your confidential information. Those who fall for such scams fall victim to financial fraud, identity theft or both.
Avoiding COVID-19 Vaccination Scams – Top Tips:
Remember that COVID-19 vaccines in the UK are available only via the NHS of England, Wales and Scotland, or from Health & Social Care Northern Ireland.
Remember that the NHS will never:
- Charge you for a COVID-19 vaccination
- Ask you for your bank account or card details
- Ask you for your PIN or banking password or memorable details
- Arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine
- Ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as passport, driving licence, bills or payslips.
If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up.
How you will be contacted to get your COVID-19 vaccination
The NHS will contact you when it is your turn to have the vaccination, by letter, text or email, with information on how to book your appointment. The vaccination is free of charge without exception. The vaccine is being offered at larger vaccination centres, pharmacies and some local NHS services such as hospitals or GP surgeries.
If you think you have been a victim of fraud, don’t be embarrassed but report it immediately to Action Fraud at www.actionfraud.police.uk or on 0300 123 2040 (if you’re in Scotland, Police Scotland on 101). Report any assaults to the police. If you are suspicious about an email you have received, forward it to email@example.com. Suspicious text messages should be forwarded free of charge to 7726.
Get Safe Online is the UK’s leading source of information and advice on online safety and security, for the public and small businesses. It is a not-for-profit, public/private sector partnership backed by law enforcement agencies and leading organisations in internet security, banking and retail. For more information and expert, easy-to-follow, impartial advice on safeguarding yourself, your family, finances, devices and workplace, visit www.getsafeonline.org.
If you’re interested in joining Neighbourhood Watch, or want to find out more, visit www.sussexnwfed.org.uk or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.