Scam text claiming to be from the NHS is trying to trick people into applying for phoney Covid passports, experts warn

The fake message is being sent to mobile phones and tries to direct victims to a dodgy website designed to fleece their personal data

A scam text claiming to be from the NHS is trying to trick people into applying for phoney Covid passports, experts warn.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has been sent evidence of the text con based around the NHS Covid passes.

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It claims to be an official message from the NHS and reads: “NHS: We’ve noticed you haven’t applied for your Covid pass, please follow the link to complete registration to avoid fees.”

The message then links to a website made to look like a real NHS platform that asks the recipient to give personal details, supposedly for a registration application, but which could be used to carry out identity fraud.

The text seen by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) about the NHS Covid passports, designed to scam victims into clicking on a phoney website (SWNS/CTSI)

‘Dangerous fraud’

Katherine Hart, CTSI lead officer, said: “The public should apply for an NHS Covid Pass or vaccination certificates on the official platforms, which are different, depending on if they are resident in England, Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland.

“Whenever we receive these messages, we should not only avoid these scams, but also report them to Action Fraud, or if in Scotland, contact Police Scotland.

“By reporting scams, authorities can build a fuller picture of this dangerous fraud blighting communities throughout the United Kingdom.”

This text scam is similar to an email-based fraud unearthed in July, which begged members of the public to get their health passports before going on holiday.

That scam also directed victims to a phoney website that took personal details which could be used to commit fraud.

‘It appals me’

John Herriman, CTSI chief executive, said he has personally received many similar messages since the first lockdown last March.

He added: “Since the first Covid lockdown in March 2020, CTSI has witnessed countless scams themed around the pandemic.

“I have received many fake Covid messages myself, and I don’t think a single person hasn’t received one. It appals me just how relentless the fraudsters are and how unscrupulous they are to target the public at a time of unprecedented vulnerability.

“We need a national conversation about public protection, and on how enforcement agencies including trading standards can adapt their methods to meet the challenge of a fast-evolving threat from fraudsters in our increasingly digitalised economy.”

For consumer advice call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.