Official GOV.UK Fraud Message Re Texts

 Essex Trading Standards has been made aware of a telephone scam whereby callers claiming to be from the NHS Test and Trace service are calling unsuspecting residents asking for payment for tests.

Those being called are told that they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for coronavirus and are then told they must purchase a test over the phone.

If you've been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus and need to self-isolate, you may get an email, text or phone call from NHS Test and Trace, however no one would be advised to get tested unless they had symptoms, and if they do, they would never be asked to purchase a test or give their bank details.

People may also get an alert from the NHS COVID-19 app as part of test and trace. Children under 18 will be contacted by phone wherever possible and asked for their parent or guardian's permission to continue the call.

NHS Test and trace will never;

  • ask for bank details or payments
  • ask for details of any other accounts, such as social media
  • ask you to set up a password or PIN number over the phone
  • ask you to call a premium rate number, such as those starting 09 or 087

At present, Essex Trading Standards haven't received any calls on this but is aware of reports circulating on social media.

Chris French, Head of Essex Trading Standards said: "Absolutely no-one officially contacted by the NHS test and trace team would be asked for payment over the phone or to pay for a test.

"We would ask residents to be vigilant if they receive a call such as this, not to give any personal information and report it to us straight away. Please also make sure older or vulnerable family and friends are aware of this scam so they don't fall prey to it."

Director of Public Health, Dr Mike Gogarty said: " The NHS Test and Trace service is a vital element in helping us stop the spread of coronavirus. I am disgusted that scammers are using this crucial service as a way to scam people, potentially putting people's health at risk.

"People should not be discouraged from giving their contact details as part of test and trace, however I would ask that they remain vigilant when receiving calls, check the telephone number and not give any information such as bank details if asked."

More about NHS Test and Trace can be found here



This month, Action Fraud have received over 260 reports of COVID-19 TV scam phishing emails. The emails purporting to be from TV Licensing claim that the recipient's direct debit has failed and that they need to pay to avoid prosecution. Recipients are told that they are eligible for a "COVID19 Personalized Offer" of six months free. The messages contain links to genuine-looking websites that are designed to steal personal and financial information.  

 CIFAS (the UK's leading fraud prevention organisation) are warning of a new HMRC scam. This scam appears to be specifically targeting people who are out of work or working less due to coronavirus, and is offering £1,000s in grants. The recipient is told to click on a link to check their eligibility, and answer questions that are designed to steal personal information. CIFAS are stating that this scam comes from the email address "[email protected]", but as new frauds spring up every day, this could change. 


 Police in Havering are warning people about a Covid-19 testing scam. It is after one resident was called by a person pretending to be from the NHS track and trace service. They have released a transcript of the phone call:

Scammer: "Good morning, I'm calling from the NHS track and trace service. According to our system, you are likely to have been in close proximity to someone who has tested positive for COVID-19. This means that you now need to self-isolate for 7 days and take a COVID-19 test."

Resident: "Okay. Can you tell me who that person was?"

Scammer: "I'm not able to tell you that. That is confidential information."

Resident: "Right. Um... so...."

Scammer: "But you do need to be tested within the next 72 hours. So can I just get the best mailing address so that we can send a kit to you?"

At this point the resident provided their address.

Scammer: "Thank you - and I just need to take a payment card so that we can finalise this and send the kit to you."

Resident: "‘Sorry - a payment card? I thought this was all free?"

Scammer: "No - I'm afraid not. There is a one-off fee of £500 for the kit, and test results. Could you read off the long card number for me, please, when you're ready."

Resident: "‘No - that's not right. This is part of the NHS so there's no charge."

Scammer: "I'm afraid there is. Can you give me the card number please - this is very important, and there are penalties for not complying."

The resident hung up the call at this point.

This is a scam. There is no payment details of any kind taken by ANY of the test and trace teams. Do not give out your bank or payment details to anyone saying they are from test and trace. NHS test and trace will only confirm details with you and offer advice, they will not ask for any bank or payment details ever. Tracers will also provide people with a phone number and website where they can confirm who the caller is.


Professor John Newton, national coordinator of the UK coronavirus testing programme, has warned against the purchase of unapproved antibody testing kits and has released a statement.

Several reports have emerged of organisations seeking to purchase antibody tests for their employees, or of individuals purchasing these tests online for personal use. Antibody tests offer hope for people wanting to find out if they have had coronavirus, and are now immune and can get back to work. But so far, no country in the world, including the UK, has found a reliable antibody test.

Professor John Newton has warned that unapproved tests could be misleading, by providing inaccurate or inconsistent results, potentially putting those tested and those around them at risk.


Scams and disinformation

When shared, false information can take on a life of its own and have some serious consequences. It can lead to health scares, false accusations and potentially damaging hoax stories. There has been some false information about COVID19. It's not always easy to spot, so the Government recommends you use the SHARE checklist to make sure 

SIM-SWAP FRAUD - HOW CRIMINALS HIJACK YOUR NUMBER TO ACCESS YOUR ACCOUNTS An unusual one this week, but a fraud that has increased by 400% since 2015! Sim-swap fraud is where a criminal tricks your network into transferring your mobile number to a Sim card in their possession meaning they receive all calls and texts intended for you - including any one-time security passcodes required to access your accounts. How do they do it? There are a number of ways criminals obtain your data - either through social media, paying for stolen data or through social engineering (fake emails, texts or phone calls that trick you into giving out your details). With this information they then pose as you in order to contact your network provider and request that your number is switched to a new Sim card that they have. They will then get your number swapped so that they can receive all of your calls and text messages. ‘Tell2, protect many' is a communication initiative that empowers you to spread crime prevention messages to others in your life, who otherwise may never know. Start with ‘tell2' and ask them to do the same. It starts with YOU! What can I do to protect myself? 1. Protect your mobile account Add a password or passcode to your mobile account 2. Clean up your online profile Restrict who can see your social media profiles which can often contain information that is then used in security questions (i.e. name of first school, date of birth, children's names etc) 3. Beware phishing attempts Remember to be vigilant if you get calls, texts or emails asking for information. Remember ABC - Never Assume they are genuine, Never Believe they are genuine and Always Confirm they are genuine before giving out personal details. 4. Recognise the signs Call your provider immediately if you receive unexpected texts or emails about ‘porting your Sim' or a PAC request, or if you suddenly lose phone signal. 5. Inform your banks If your Sim has been swapped, alert your banks immediately in case the fraudster tried to make a transfer from your account. 6. Use 2FA apps Remove your phone number from any websites or accounts that use it to reset passwords. There are other apps that use the physical device to authenticate requests, rather than the phone number. In the current climate, mobile phones are a vital lifeline for many people. Please ensure you tell your family and friends about how to protect their number from criminals!   


Telecommunications infrastructure

The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has now highlighted arson attacks on mobile telephone mast sites and other telecommunications infrastructure as a point of concern. These attacks have been fuelled by a baseless theory linking Coronavirus to the 5G network. There is no credible evidence of a link between 5G and Coronavirus, and DCMS is working to tackle this misinformation and ensure security is maintained. It is asking that councils and residents support them in maintaining the telecommunications networks, at a time when it is vital that these networks run as efficiently as possible, by reporting any incidents of damage and suspicious behaviour to the police immediately. Guidance on telecommunications infrastructure is available on GOV.UK.


 If you or someone you know is vulnerable and has been a victim of fraud, please call Essex Police on 101.

Report fraud or attempted fraud by contacting Action Fraud or call 0300 123 2040.


"The Government has only sent one text message to the public regarding new rules about staying at home to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Any others claiming to be from UK Government are false.

Criminals are able to use spoofing technology to send texts and emails impersonating organisations that you know and trust. We would remind anyone who receives an unexpected text or email asking for personal or financial details not click on the links or attachments, and don't respond to any messages that ask for your personal or financial details."


Unfortunately, there have been a variety of council related telephone scams circulating. People have received calls stating that their Council Tax banding may have changed, but when challenged the callers hung up. The council encourages residents who receive telephone calls purporting to be from organisations to challenge callers on their identity. There are a number of genuine council schemes operating at the moment which are genuine- these callers will have no issue with you verifying who they are.

Essex Police recommends that before handing over personal details, always remember ABC:

  • Never Assume they are legitimate.
  • Never Believe they are legitimate.
  • Always Confirm using a trusted number or asking friends and family.

The National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) has relaunched its Cyber Aware campaign to support people in the current situation. More people than ever are working from home or turning to the internet for entertainment, shopping or keeping in touch and it's important to know how to keep yourself safe online. The NCSC has also created a new service for the public to be able to report suspicious emails. With your help, the public can fight back against phishing (where criminal use suspicious emails to obtain peoples personal details) and can help the NCSC to take down a significant number of malicious websites.

The email should be forwarded to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service at [email protected]

The NCSC are also reminding people of the things you can do to protect yourself online and has produced 6 Top Tips:

  1. Create a separate password for your email
  2. Create a strong password using three random words
  3. Save your passwords in your browser
  4. Turn on two-factor authentication
  5. Update your devices
  6. Turn on backup

More information on how to stay safe online and instructions on how forward to the Suspicious Email Reporting Service can be found on the NCSC website

If you or someone you know is vulnerable and has been a victim of fraud, please call Essex Police on 101. Report fraud or attempted fraud by contacting Action Fraud at or call 0300 123 2040.


Danske Bank Whatsapp Message 

A recent text has been circulating via Whatsapp, text and social media claiming to have come from the City of London Fraud team. The contact of the message is false.


Fake NHS Emails 

Action Fraud have also received numerous reports re an email purporting to be from HM Government asking for donations to the NHS to combat Covid-19. The NHS will never ask for money in this way -  if you would like to donate to the NHS you can do so via the official channels.

Remember - do not click on links in unsolicited or unexpected text messages:

Remember A B C

Never Assume they are legitimate.

Never Believe they are legitimate.

Always Confirm using a trusted number or asking friends or family. 

 If you receive any such messages, report them to Action Fraud


HMRC Communications 

Find out how to recognise when contact from HMRC is genuine, and how to recognise phishing or bogus emails and text messages. 


A good source of information can be found on the Essex Police website

 Also check:  




Page updated 01/10/2020


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