Councils warn against Test and Trace scam

The Local Government Association says councils have received reports of fraudsters attempting to exploit the Test and Trace system through bogus phone calls, emails and text messages.

The genuine NHS service, which aims to reduce the spread of coronavirus by quickly testing people with symptoms and either phoning, texting or emailing whoever they have had close contact with to tell them to self-isolate for 14 days, is free, so any request for bank card details to cover the cost of the testing kit are a scam.

The warning comes during Scams Awareness Fortnight, and amid new research which shows that more than one in three people in the UK have been targeted in scams since lockdown began.

Simon Blackburn, chair of the LGA’s Safer and Stronger Communities Board, said: “Scammers don’t care about people’s safety and this latest scam is another worrying and sickening attempt to trick people out of their money by preying on the public’s fears. Councils across the country are playing a key role in supporting the NHS Test and Trace Service and on plans to manage local outbreaks. This ruthless scam undermines this vital work to save lives by exploiting people who want to do the right thing and stop the spread of the virus.

“People may be contacted by the Test and Trace Service by text, email or phone, but the official tracers will never ask you to make any payment or for your bank details.

“Councils are determined to protect residents from this latest scam and a surge in other scams reported to them during the lockdown period. We urge people to report scams to help prevent someone becoming a victim, particularly those who are more vulnerable. It’s important that everybody – relevant business such as banks, family, friends and neighbours - works together to prevent fraud from happening in the first place and stop fraudsters taking advantage at this time of national crisis.”