Coventry residents are being urged to watch out for a new coronavirus test and trace scam which is asking people for money to cover the cost of a testing kit.
Con artists are contacting residents by phone, email or text telling them they have been in contact with somebody who has tested positive for coronavirus and that they need to self-isolate and take a test.
The scammers refuse to disclose who the householder has been in contact with but ask them to confirm their address so a testing kit can be sent to them. Bank card details are then requested to cover the cost of the testing kit.
However health bosses in Coventry have urged people to be on their guard, reminding them the genuine NHS Track and Trace service is free and no payments are required.
The issue was raised by councillors at a health and wellbeing board meeting at the authority this week, with fears that vulnerable people in particular are being targeted.
Cllr Abdul Salam Khan, council deputy leader and cabinet member for policing and equalities, said: “These criminals are preying on people’s anxieties about Covid-19 and they are also undermining the brilliant work being done to prevent the spread of the virus.
“It is absolutely vital that people do use the Test and Trace service, but please, remember that it is free and it is there to help us all. If anyone asks you for bank details or for private information, then please report them.”
The service aims to reduce the spread of coronavirus by quickly testing people with symptoms and either phoning, texting or emailing whoever they have had close contact with to tell them to self-isolate for 14 days.
The genuine NHS Test and Trace Service will never:
- Ask for bank account details, passwords or PIN numbers
- Ask for a payment or to buy a product
- Ask you to download any software
- Ask you to call a premium rate number to speak to the NHS (for example, those starting 09 or 087)
- Disclose any of your personal or medical information to your contacts.
Anyone asked these types of questions should report the incident to Action Fraud.
Over a third of British adults (36%) have been the target of a scam since lockdown began, new research by Citizens Advice recently revealed.
Raising the issue at this week’s health board meeting, Stuart Linnell, Chair of Healthwatch Coventry, said: “I have heard from people who have been contacted clearly by scammers.
“The thing that really alerts you is when they start asking for your credit card details to pay for the service which is clearly not relevant and people should immediately be aware that they should discontinue that conversation.”
Leader of the council George Duggins added: “Some people will get caught, there is no doubt about this.
“There are some people who are vulnerable and will be only too happy to give their details because they think they will be acting in the public interest.”
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