Oxfordshire residents are being urged to be on their guard against scammers using the promise of a coronavirus vaccine to con them out of money.
Criminals across the country are contacting people out of the blue with offers of a coronavirus vaccination. These approaches have been made by text or from a recorded voice message on the telephone.
In each case, the recipient is required to respond by clicking a link in the text message or by pressing 1 when receiving the call. They are then asked to give personal information, as well as financial details to book their vaccination. However, these are scams, with criminals exploiting the pandemic to attempt to steal personal details and people’s money.
The NHS is currently offering the COVID-19 vaccine free of charge to people most at risk from coronavirus. These people will be contacted by the NHS.
Jody Kerman, Oxfordshire County Council’s head of trading standards, said: “Unfortunately, scammers will use any high-profile situation to try to commit their crimes, and the coronavirus pandemic has given them a new opportunity. Scammers will often use fear tactics, or claims of big rewards or access to restricted goods and services – trying to rush their victims and taking away their time to think.”
Other warning signs to watch out for include:
Residents are urged to:
There has been a surge worldwide of vaccine-related ‘phishing’ email scams, and this is expected to increase in these in the coming days. Previous phishing emails have contained malicious files that installed malware, or links to bogus websites to obtain the victim’s information.
Scams cost the UK economy £5-£10 billion a year and there is a scam out there for everybody. Before clicking on a link or providing your personal details, stop and ‘take five’. Never be afraid to delete the text, put the phone down or close the door.
To find out more about how scams work, the harm they cause and how you can help to protect people in your community, consider becoming a Friend Against Scams at www.friendsagainstscams.org.uk
For more details on the ‘Take 5’ campaign, go to https://takefive-stopfraud.org.uk/