Cyber criminals are preying on fears of the coronavirus and sending ‘phishing’ text messages that try and trick users into clicking on a bad link. Messages are short and simple and often claim to be from a known entity. Web links are harder to spot on a SMS as they are shortened so apply caution clicking on links.

If you receive a text or email that asks you to click on a link or for you to provide information, such as your name, credit card or bank details, it's a scam.

Any text message containing a link should be treated with caution. The best way to find information from GOV.UK, or any other agency, is to visit that particular website via a trusted source (such as through Google or Bing) and do not click on links in unsolicited texts or emails.

Some 'phishing' text messages contain a link to a form claiming to be from the NHS. Recipients are told they are now eligible for the vaccine, but need to fill in a form to be processed for the Pfizer/BioNTech jab, which is being rolled out across the UK right now.

Cold calls regarding the vaccine are also beginning to take place, where scammers are asking people to pay for the vaccine over the phone. If you receive one of these calls, hang up.

Scams can come in many forms and is an incredibly sophisticated crime, making it more difficult to distinguish genuine messages from the fake.

  • Do not open attachments or click on links in emails or texts from senders you don’t know.
  • Never give out personal information, financial details or passwords in response to an email, text or phone call without verifying that the person is who they claim to be.
  • Block any numbers that arouse suspicion.
  • Set up spam filters on all of your accounts.
  • Always go to a website directly, by typing out the address yourself, when logging into an account.
  • Look out for fake websites by sense-checking the domain name.
  • Keep an eye out for numerous spelling mistakes in messages, these are normally linked to phishing emails and texts.

If you think you, or someone you know has been a victim of online fraud:

  • Let your bank know what’s happened immediately.
  • Report the offence to Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040 or via their website https://www.actionfraud.police.uk/
  • The new COVID Fraud Hotline (0800 587 5030) has also been set up by in partnership with Crimestoppers to enable individuals to report fraud within the public sector during the pandemic. There is also an online reporting feature which can be found here: http://covidfraudhotline.org

Take a look at the leaflet below or click here: Covid-19 SMS and Text Message Scams.pdf