MILLIONS have been targeted by Covid Pass scams conning them out of money and sensitive data.
Criminals are cashing in on confusion around how the genuine NHS document works.
An NHS Covid Pass shows your coronavirus vaccination details or test results.
It can be obtained in paper or digital form, right, via the NHS app or website, or by calling 119, and is needed for foreign travel and events such as gigs and sports matches.
Crucially, the NHS NEVER asks for money or financial details — unlike con artists.
Consumer rights expert Martyn James says: “One of the reasons these scams work is mass confusion over what a Covid pass is, how you get one and where you get it from.
“What’s appalling is these scams tap into the things in the back of our minds that we worry about or are scared of.
“This makes us more likely to click and submit.”
Reports of this type of scam doubled from around 200 a month in July and August to around 400 in September and October — but only a minority of cases are even reported.
In recent weeks, patients have reported emails seemingly from their GP practice inviting them to claim their pass, while others have received texts telling them to click on a link to buy theirs.
Some 12million of us have had bogus emails that appear to be from the NHS, online security firm Tessian reports. David Emm, of cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, says that crooks have been “exploiting the disruption” caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
One recent scam has involved emails pretending to be from Patient Access, which is the online booking service used by most GP practices.
These invited patients to claim their pass by clicking on a link to a page that looks just like the NHS website. Whether or not the patients accepted the invitation, they had to enter their name, address, birth date, mother’s maiden name and mobile phone number.
They were then asked for their bank account numbers, sort codes and CVV security numbers.
In another scam, people were sent a text with a link to a convincing copy of the NHS website. It asked them to pay £4.99 for the passport. Criminals then use the card details to make other fraudulent payments.
Mr James adds: “If they have your details, a fraudster enters them into every website they can think of, from shops to payment systems.
“If they get in, they change your address and max out your card or bank account through purchases or transfers.”
The Department for Health has now published a warning about Covid pass scams, and a spokesman confirmed: “The NHS will never ask people for payment or for any financial details.”
MEL SAW ‘NHS’ ON TEXT AND FELT SAFE
COMPANY boss Mel Sims received a text this week that she thought was from the NHS.
It said: “You are now eligible to apply for your NHS Covid Pass. Failure to apply could result in a fine.”
Mel, 48, director of a low-calorie alcohol firm, clicked on a link to a website that looked like the real NHS version.
She entered her name and address – then was asked for a card payment of £4.99. It was only when she went to get her wallet that she suspected a scam. She did not pay – but had handed over her details to scammers.
Mel, from Essex, says: “You see the letters NHS, and the NHS colours and branding, and feel safe. I had been receiving texts about my Covid jabs so it didn’t seem unusual. I’d heard people mention a Covid Pass, but wasn’t really sure what it was.
“I clicked through because I thought it would mean I could travel next year.
“It is so easy to fall for this scam.”
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