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Warning sounded about fake vaccine scam


By Chris Saunderson

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Residents are being warned about a dangerous scam related to the Covid-19 vaccine.

A fake NHS text has been circulating, telling people they’re eligible to apply for the vaccine and asking for payment.

Professor Caroline Hiscox.
Professor Caroline Hiscox.

The text message states: ‘NHS - We have identified that you are eligible to apply for your vaccine’, and asks people to ‘apply’ by clicking on a link. The link then takes you through to a convincing-looking but fake NHS website which asks for your personal details and bank account and card details.

Cold calls about the vaccine are also beginning to take place, with people asked to pay for it over the phone. If you receive one of these calls, hang up.

Trading Standards services from Aberdeen City Council, Aberdeenshire Council and Moray Council have asked people to be particularly vigilant to these scams as they will not have to pay for the vaccine through the NHS.

Moray Council’s Trading Standards Manager, Karen Sievewright, said: “Scams can look authentic, but remember the NHS will never ask for bank account details or a billing address. If you see any potential vaccine scams, please report these and protect a vulnerable resident from being taken advantage of.”

Aberdeen City Council’s Trading Standards manager Graeme Paton said: “We are especially concerned that vulnerable people might be taken in by these scams.

“The text message and fake NHS website look very convincing and, with people keen to get vaccinated against Covid-19 as soon as possible, they might easily think they’ve been chosen.

“Please delete these text messages and block them, and hang up if you get cold calls asking to pay for the vaccine.”

Gary Glasgow, Team Manager with Aberdeenshire Council’s Trading Standards, explained: “Scammers are continuing to take advantage of people’s fears and concerns during the pandemic and this scam illustrates the extent that these criminals will go to in order to obtain someone’s personal and banking details.

“The text message and website look very convincing. It states that ‘NHS - We have identified that you are eligible to apply for your vaccine’ and asks people to ‘apply’ by clicking on a link.

“We would like to remind residents that the NHS will not ask you for payment or bank details if you are identified as someone eligible for vaccination.”

NHS Grampian will be in touch with people to arrange a vaccination appointment when they are eligible. It's important not to contact your GP practice for a vaccination before then.

For more information, visit the NHS website at https://www.nhsinform.scot/healthy-living/immunisation/vaccines/coronavirus-covid-19-vaccine

Prof Caroline Hiscox, Chief Executive of NHS Grampian, said: "I cannot stress enough that we will be in touch directly with people to explain how and where they can receive their COVID-19 vaccination. There is no charge for this.

“Anyone suggesting otherwise or requesting your bank details is trying to deceive you."

Any scams can be reported to the trading standards services in the three councils and the contact details (during office hours) are:

  • Aberdeen City Council – 03000 200 292 or tradingstandards@aberdeencity.gov.uk;
  • Aberdeenshire Council – Inverurie office on 01467 537222, or the Fraserburgh office on 01346 415888;
  • Moray Council - 0300 123 4561 or tradingstandards@moray.gov.uk.

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