Calls to action aren’t always as legitimate as they seem

Despite the logistical challenges in the distribution of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine, thousands of vulnerable people and front-line medical staff have already received their shots. Every day we all see a little more glimmer of hope that the impact of the virus is lessening the impact on our daily lives.

In turn we will all receive an invite to be vaccinated. The planning behind the exercise is one of the biggest tasks this country has ever faced. Getting the vaccines safely into the country is one thing, especially with the spectre of Brexit on the horizon, but then getting it safely into the communities is a whole different ball game. We all have to be patient, waiting for our invites to be given the vaccine.

Unfortunately, the criminals are a-tuned to our impatience and in some cases desperation and have unsurprisingly started a campaign to defraud people using some basic scams and unfortunately, many people believe in the good of others and would never consider the kind sounding person at the end of the phone would never try to trick them, but the fraudsters sole aim is to defraud as many people as quickly as possible.

A number of NHS Trusts are already reporting that people are receiving fraudulent calls and text messages offering the COVID-19 vaccination. In some cases, people are asked to press a number on their keypad, which unbeknown to them, diverts the ball to a premium rate line. The first the victim will know they have been scammed is when they see the exorbitant charge on their phone bill. Others have been asked to send a text message to confirm they wish to receive the vaccine – again this will be to a high-cost premium number. Naturally, there have been other scams reported that simply ask for an “appointment fee”, following up the payment with a text message to add an element of authenticity.

There are no short cuts to getting the vaccine and it is only available from the NHS and the NHS will contact you when it is your turn. There is a priority order for individuals to receive the vaccine and there are no shortcuts in exchange for money.

As a reminder, the NHS will:

  • NEVER ask you to press a button on your keypad
  • NEVER ask you to send a text asking you to confirm you want the vaccine.
  • NEVER ask for payment for the vaccine or for your bank details

The day will come when we can all look forward to returning to some kind of normality thanks to mass vaccination. But until then, be careful and remember if something sounds too good to be true, it must probably is.

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