Police are urging the public to be aware of a phishing text message scam circulating in Northern Ireland telling people that they must apply for their Covid-19 pass.
The fraudulent text tells the receiver they are eligible to apply for an NHS Covid pass, and that failure to apply may result in fines.
When the receiver clicks on the link attached, they’re directed to an official looking NHS website. However, this fake site asks the viewer to enter their bank details, claiming that a £1.99 payment is required to process the Covid pass application.
Domestic coronavirus certification is required in many venues across Northern Ireland, however, application for certification is free and can be completed on the NI Direct website by clicking here.
Scam text messages have been common throughout the pandemic, with recent examples including a fraudulent message telling people they are eligible to come forward for vaccination, before redirecting them to a fake NHS page that asks for bank details.
If you receive a text or email that asks you to click on a link or for you to provide information, such as your name, credit card or bank details, it’s a likely to be a scam. Protect yourself by following this advice:
- do not open attachments or click on links in emails or texts from numbers you don’t know
- never give out your personal information, banking details or passwords in response to an email, text or phone call without verifying that the caller is who they say they are
- block any numbers you find suspicious
- always go to a website directly by typing out the address yourself when logging into an account – do not click on links
- check for spelling mistakes in messages and emails
Spotting a coronavirus scam
Scammers often make contact by email, phone calls, text messages, social media posts or calling at your door.
If in doubt, apply the ‘scam’ test:
- s – seems too good to be true
- c – contacted out of the blue
- a – asked for personal details
- m – money is requested
What to do if you’ve been scammed
Scams are becoming very sophisticated and many people are falling victim to them.
It can be extremely upsetting and sometimes it’s hard to believe or imagine that someone would take advantage of the current pandemic to make gain for themselves.
Things you should do:
- if you’ve already responded to a scam, end all further communication immediately
- call your bank directly and cancel any recurring payments
- the National Cyber Security Centre also recommends people change their passwords and run their anti-virus software if they have been targeted
- report it
Sergeant Adams from the PSNI said: “We know that fraudsters will stop at nothing to dupe people out of their money and they aim to exploit the pandemic for financial gain.
“I am urging people to remain vigilant, fraudsters don’t care who their victim is.
“Be sceptical and on your guard, If you receive a text or email that asks you to click on a link or for you to provide information, such as your name, credit card or bank details, it’s a likely to be a scam.
“Don’t hit the link, if you are dealing with someone about a Covid-19 vaccination pass and they ask you for money, this is a huge red flag, hang up and stop dealing with them.
“It’s also important that if you have older members of family, talk with them and tell them legitimate providers of this vaccine will never seek their banking information. This is a really important conversation to have.”
Anyone concerned they have been a victim of a scam can either report the matter to Action Fraud via their website www.actionfraud.police.uk or by phoning 0300 123 2040.
Police can be contacted on the non-emergency number 101 or you can submit a report online using our non-emergency reporting form via http://www.psni.police.uk/makeareport/
For further advice and information visit www.nidirect.gov.uk/scamwiseni or the ScamwiseNI Facebook page @scamwiseni.
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