A WARNING has been issued to Inverclyde residents about a coronavirus vaccine scam.
Criminals are trying to cash in on the rollout of the vaccines by preying on those who are desperate to be vaccinated.
Convincing-looking hoax text messages claiming to be from the NHS are being sent to people falsely saying they are eligible for a covid-19 jab and encouraging them to apply before asking for personal information, including bank details.
There have also been reports of scammers phoning people directly pretending to be from the health service or a local pharmacy in a bid to extort cash.
Councillor Jim Clocherty, Inverclyde Council depute leader and the area’s health board representative, said: “People are understandably desperate to receive the vaccine as soon as possible to protect themselves from coronavirus and to start getting their lives back to normal.
“This creates the perfect environment for crooks to prey on the anxiety that’s out there to try and con money from members of the public, often those who are older and vulnerable.
“While we have to be patient as we await our covid jabs, the vaccine will be delivered to everyone free and our health professionals will never ask anyone for sensitive, personal information such as bank details or a passport to prove their identity, nor will anyone turn up at someone’s home unannounced.
“Residents will be contacted directly by their GP or the health board when it’s time to go for their covid jab.
“I urge everyone to please keep their guard up and be wary of this scam and many others that are sadly doing the rounds.”
Warnings have been issued by the UK Government’s Counter Fraud Function and NHS Counter Fraud Authority about the covid vaccine scams.
People are being reminded that the NHS will:
NEVER ask for payment — the vaccine is free
NEVER ask for anyone’s bank details
NEVER arrive unannounced at someone’s home to administer the vaccine
NEVER ask anyone to prove their identity by sending copies of personal documents such as a passport
If anyone receives a call which they believe to be fraudulent, they should always hang up immediately.
Suspicious emails can be forwarded to the UK’s National Cyber Security Centre at firstname.lastname@example.org and text messages passed on for free by sending them to 7726.
A national hotline and website has also been set up and is being run by charity Crimestoppers for people to report covid-related fraud of any kind anonymously by calling 0800 587 5030 or visiting www.covidfraudhotline.org.
Anyone who thinks they have been a victim of fraud or identity theft should report this directly to Police Scotland by calling 101.
For more information about the rollout of the covid-19 vaccines, visit www.nhsinform.scot.