Help, Support and Advice

Last updated on: 09-Apr-2021

5. Staying safe from crime

Be alert to covid testing and vaccine fraud

Criminals are using the COVID-19 vaccine as a way to target the public by tricking them to hand over cash or financial details. They are sending convincing looking text messages letting people know they are eligible for the vaccine of phoning people directly pretending to be from the NHS, or local pharmacy. People are warned to be alert to these scams.

The NHS will:

  • Never ask for payment. The vaccine is free
  • Never ask you for your bank details
  • Never arrive unannounced at your home to administer the vaccine
  • Never ask you to prove your identify by sending copies of personal documents such as your passport.

Further guidance and support

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 report@phishing.gov.uk Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to the number 7726 which is free of charge.

If you believe you have been the victim of fraud or identify theft, you should report this directly to Action Fraud either on action fraud website or phone 0300 123 2040

If you have any information relating to vaccine fraud you can stay 100% anonymous by visiting the Crimestoppers website or phone 0800 587 5030

Crime Prevention and Safety Advice

Whilst we are all doing our best to support each other during this period, there are unfortunately some who will try to use the Coronavirus as an opportunity to take advantage and to commit crime. To counter this we are asking you to share some crime prevention advice with your family, friends and colleagues to minimise the risk of their being tricked by fraudsters.

Action Fraud and the National Fraud Intelligence Bureau have received numerous reports about fraud linked to the virus with a number of different approaches and tactics being used. Please be particularly aware of the following:

Thieves offering to shop for elderly and vulnerable people but keeping the money

Thieves have been offering to go shopping for elderly and vulnerable people who are staying at home but then keeping the money for themselves.  Ask family, friends and neighbours that you know to support you and use online services if you can.  If this is not possible, contact the Council who will be working with other services and charities to help those who have been advised to stay at home.  Never give money to strangers who offer to go shopping for you.

Fake NHS contact

One reported scam includes people visiting homes and claiming to be from the NHS to carry out testing and temperature checks.  Fraudsters are then either charging for the testing to be carried out or, particularly if working in pairs, using it as an opportunity to steal items from the property whilst the victim is distracted.  Do not let these people in – always check with your GP or the NHS directly whether this is genuine first. Never part with money or give personal or financial details out.

A second NHS scam concerns emails being sent claiming to be from the NHS Coronavirus Unit and setting out information about the virus and risks it poses to the public, especially the elderly and sick.  It goes on to explain measures the NHS is taking to combat the virus to protect the most vulnerable.  It then ‘highly recommends’ that anyone aged 65 or over completes a form that is attached to the email and order medication for the virus in advance to ensure ‘rapid and effective’ treatment.  This is not for free and victims are asked to make a payment (one known incident asked for a payment of £169.99).  This is a scam – the NHS is not sending out such emails at this time and would not suggest you order medication in advance in this way.  Do not open any attachment, provide any personal details and or make any payment.

‘Phishing’ emails

Fraudsters are contacting potential Coronavirus victims by email claiming to be from research organisations affiliated with the Centres for Disease Control and the World Health Organisation.  They claim to be able to provide the person contacted with a list of  Coronavirus-infected people in their area.  However, when the victim clicks on a provided link, it takes them to a malicious website and/or they are asked to make a payment in Bitcoin.

Do not click on links or attachments in suspicious emails and never respond to unsolicited messages and calls that ask for your personal or financial details.  Even if you recognise the sender’s name, don’t reply if the email looks odd with spelling mistakes or a messy layout.

Shopping online

Fraudsters are using online marketplaces to supposedly sell goods such as face masks, protective gloves and hand sanitisers that don’t exist.  Before you buy anything online, do some research and try to check that the seller is genuine.  Ask a friend or family member for advice or their opinion before completing any purchases

Another particular scam concerns masks which claim to have a special inbuilt filter that is better at offering protection against the virus – one cost quoted was £129.00 and once the victim received it, it was a simple fabric mask that would have cost only a few pounds.

Fake HMRC emails

Taxpayers have been targeted by several HM Revenue and Customs Coronavirus scams.  One concerns people being sent messages from scammers claiming to be from HMRC promising a tax refund.  The texts or emails contain a link directing recipients to a fake website bearing an HMRC logo and the victim is then asked to provide name, credit card or bank details. A second involves victims being told that they have an outstanding tax payment to make which, unless paid immediately, will lead to their being arrested.

As in all other cases, do not provide personal information and do not make any payment.  If you have any suspicion at all about any contact purporting to be from HMRC, please report it to HMRC directly via: phishing@hmrc.gov.uk

If you experience any situation such as those described above, please report it to Kent Police using the 101 non-emergency number or online reporting form at : www.kent.police.uk – and warn you family, friends and colleagues to be mindful of these scams.

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