Cumbria’s Police and Crime Commissioner, Peter McCall, is urging residents to stay safe online during the third UK-wide COVID-19 lockdown. Across the UK, people are receiving scam emails and texts masquerading as NHS asking residents to book in for their COVID-19 vaccine by supplying their bank details.
Fraud is one of the most common types of crime with the Office for National Statistics (ONS) saying that people are more likely to fall victim to fraud or cyber offences above any other crime. Criminals will try to gain access to bank accounts, get passwords and answers to common security questions to steal from their victims.
Speaking about online scams, PCC Peter McCall, said: “The news of the COVID-19 vaccination rolling out across the country was, and still is, great news but criminals are taking advantage of the public’s hope.
“Criminals are sending texts and emails pretending to be the NHS.
“They’re offering people the opportunity to book their vaccination appointment by supplying their name and bank account details – never supply your bank details to anyone over text, email or phone.
“Most of us are very trusting of professional looking emails however, we do need to question anything suspicious appearing in our inbox.
“If you feel that you might have received a scam email, always check the email address of the sender and never click on any links or give your bank details over email.
“Report any potential scams to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.
“If you have been a victim of the NHS scam or any scam please call the police on 101 or contact Victim Support on 0808 1689 111.”
Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online, comments: “As in many scenarios we’ve witnessed over the years, there’s no doubt that the pandemic has created the perfect storm for fraud.
“Preoccupation with your own and your family’s health, wellbeing and finances, combined with the fact that somebody official-sounding has contacted you, can easily spell success for the fraudster.
“Stay vigilant as the vaccination programme is rolled out and if you’re concerned by the way someone has contacted you – or something just doesn’t seem right – then check the details with your local NHS provider, on a telephone number you know to be correct, before providing any specific information about you and your family.”
Cyber Dependent Crime Specialist, Niall McNicholas, said: “Although there is a significant rise in texts and emails from criminals regarding COVID-19 vaccination, it is still important to check every email and text message you receive.
“For example, you may receive an email from Amazon, you may shop with Amazon, but the email may be coming from a criminal pretending to be the retailer.”