Southport residents are being warned to beware of criminals using the NHS Covid Pass to steal money or access banking details and passwords.
The official NHS pass is available in electronic form, on paper or via the NHS App and is used to show a person’s vaccination details or test results. It can be used to enable travel or allow access to events or venues in England which require proof of Covid-19 status.
The pass is completely free and available through the NHS but criminals are using it as the latest way to target people through fake text messages, emails and phone calls.
The messages include offering to sell vaccine certificates online and through social media, potentially leaving people with an unnecessary cost and unusable pass.
Residents are being warned that these methods are being used to get people to hand over money or to reveal financial details and personal information which can be used to empty their bank accounts.
Margaret Jones, Sefton Council’s director of public health, said: “It’s important that we all remember the NHS App is free, the NHS Covid Pass is free, and that the NHS will never ask for payment or any financial details.
“If you are contacted by phone, text or email by someone claiming they can offer you a pass or the App, and asking for money, you should not respond or share important personal information such as bank details or passwords.
“And you should be alert to links and attachments in unexpected text messages or emails, which may corrupt your device and steal your information.”
Mrs Jones went on to encourage anyone who has any information relating to NHS Covid Pass or vaccine certificate fraud to report it.
She said: “If you receive a call and suspect it to be fraudulent, hang up straight away. If you are suspicious about an email, forward it to email@example.com and make sure you do not open any links or attachments.
She continued: “If you are suspicious about a text message, you can forward it free to 7726, and if you think you’re the victim of a fraud, report it to Action Fraud as soon as possible by visiting actionfraud.police.uk or calling 0300 123 2040.
“Any information relating to NHS Covid Pass or vaccine certificate fraud you can be reported 100% anonymously to Crimestoppers online at covidfraudhotline.org or by phoning 0800 587 5030.”
An NHS Covid Pass is free and details of how to get one can be found on the NHS website at nhs.uk/nhscovidpass or by calling 119.