NHS warns of COVID-19 vaccine scam messages

The NHS has teamed up with law enforcement and security agencies to warn the public not to fall victim to con artists trying to exploit the coronavirus vaccine campaign.

England’s top GP has joined the head of Action Fraud, the National Crime Agency (NCA) and the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in issuing joint advice reminding people that the vaccine is only available for free on the NHS, and health service staff will never ask for payment to get it.

In the UK, coronavirus vaccines will only be available via the National Health Services of England, Northern Ireland, Wales and Scotland. You can be contacted by the NHS, your employer, a GP surgery or pharmacy local to you, to receive your vaccine. Remember, the vaccine is free of charge. At no point will you be asked to pay.

  • The NHS will never ask you for your bank account or card details.
  • The NHS will never ask you for your PIN or banking password.
  • The NHS will never arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine.
  • The NHS will never ask you to prove your identity by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport, driving licence, bills or pay slips.

If you receive a call you believe to be fraudulent, hang up. If you are suspicious about an email you have received, forward it to [email protected]. Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to the number 7726 which is free of charge.

If you believe you are the victim of a fraud, please report this to Action Fraud as soon as possible by calling 0300 123 2040 or visiting www.actionfraud.police.uk

The NCSC is asking people to report suspect emails to its Suspicious Email Reporting Service simply by forwarding them to [email protected]. All emails forwarded to the service are analysed and if they are found to link to malicious content, it will be taken down or blocked, helping prevent future victims of crime.

The Suspicious Email Reporting Service is a world first which was launched last April by the NCSC in conjunction with the City of London Police. It has now received more than four million emails from the public, leading to the removal of over 26,000 scams and over 49,000 links to malicious content.

Graeme Biggar, Director General of the National Economic Crime Centre at the NCA, said, “The current level of reported fraud in relation to the vaccine remains very low but is increasing. The advice is very simple. The vaccine is only available on the NHS, and you will never be asked to pay for it or to provide your bank details. Anything that suggests otherwise is a fraud.”

Sarah Lyons, NCSC Deputy Director for Economy and Society, said, “Cyber criminals’ use of the vaccine to trick people into sharing their financial or personal details is just their latest shameless attempt to exploit fears over the pandemic.

“The good news is that our Suspicious Email Reporting Service is here to help keep people safe from exactly these kinds of scams.

“The NHS will never ask for bank details or payments and we would urge anyone who receives an email like this to forward it to our reporting service – doing so could help protect you and prevent future victims.”