Public warned to be on the lookout for vaccine scams

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Fraudsters who are hoping to prey on members of the public waiting to receive an invitation for their Coronavirus vaccine have been targeting people on Arran and across Scotland with vaccine scams that are being sent via email and text message.

The proliferation of these scams has prompted NHS Ayrshire and Arran to issue a warning to members of the public to be vigilant and offer advice on what to do if anyone receives a suspicious email or text message.

The fraudulent messages contain content that suggest an individual is eligible to apply for the vaccine and require a link to be clicked.

Clicking on the link will then lead to the person being asked to enter personal details and may even ask for payment.

What to do if anyone receives a scam email or text:

• Do not click on links.

• Do not call or send a message to any of the numbers.

• Do not respond to the email.

• Delete the message.

• Call 101 if you are concerned you have been a victim of a scam.

NHS Ayrshire and Arran Chief Executive John Burns explains: ‘The Covid-19 vaccine is delivered by the NHS.

‘The roll-out of the vaccine provides reason to be hopeful and we know that receiving a text, email or call about it may seem exciting, but we must make sure we don’t get complacent when it comes to scams.

‘Everyone must remain vigilant and tell family and friends what to look out for to help avoid them being scammed.’

Chief Superintendent Faroque Hussain, divisional commander for Ayrshire, said: ‘If you are concerned you have provided personal or financial information via a link in a message of this sort, contact Police Scotland via 101.

‘We will pursue anyone who sets out to cause harm and misery to our communities and our officers work closely with partners to make Scotland a hostile environment for scammers.

‘Be aware an unsolicited telephone call, email or text message may not be from the person or organisation it appears to be from. Never click on a link in a message you’re not expecting, and remember the NHS will never ask you for money relating to the Covid-19 pandemic.’

Top tips for spotting a scam message:

• Unexpected contact – Cold calls or unexpected emails or messages should raise suspicion, especially if you are asked to give personal or payment details.

• Check for spelling or grammar errors – Genuine organisations will rarely, if ever, make glaring spelling mistakes or grammatical errors, and if so it will usually be an isolated incident. If the message does not look professional, it is probably a scam.

• Check the sender’s address/number – often this will not be one linked to the organisation. This can be checked by doing a quick online search.

• Be aware of short deadlines – phrases such as ‘must respond today’ and ‘reply within 24 hours’ are designed to panic you into taking action.

Arran patients will receive a telephone call with their appointment details when it is their turn to be vaccinated, however, in places on the mainland appointments are being made by letter.

It is important to remember that vaccines are free and the NHS will never ask for payment.