Essex Trading Standards issues warning of test and trace telephone scam

Essex Trading Standards is warning 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

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Mick Ferris

Editor Email: [email protected]