Warning as fraudsters target Bedford’s vulnerable with COVID-19 vaccine scam

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Vaccine elderly

People are being warned to be vigilant as a growing number of scams are appearing that ask for people’s financial details to register for a COVID-19 (coronavirus) vaccination

Police forces across the UK have been made aware of a growing number of scams were the victim receives a text message seemingly from the NHS offering the COVID-19 vaccine.

The text contains a link to a website which, when followed, takes them to a hoax NHS website which requests personal and financial details.

Now the county’s emergency services, health authorities and local councils have joined forces to warn as many people of the scam as possible.

“Sadly criminals will always look to prey on people’s anxieties. It’s important to talk to vulnerable family members and friends about this scam,” said Chief Superintendent John Murphy, Bedfordshire Police’s COVID-19 strategic lead.

“Explain that they shouldn’t reply to unsolicited messages and give out personal information.

“In Bedfordshire, the vaccine is only available through the NHS and is free of charge so no bank details are required when booking an appointment.”

COVID-19 Vaccine Scams
Click on the image above to download a full leaflet with advice and support contact details that you can email or print off to share with family member or neighbours

Currently, Bedford’s GPs are working through a list of the area’s most vulnerable to arrange appointments.

Police also say that no one will be called from someone anywhere else and no one will visit you at home to offer the vaccine on your doorstep.

Dr Sarah Whiteman, Medical Director for Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), also expressed concern.

“It is worrying and upsetting to hear of patients being targeted by fraudulent calls and text messages offering the Covid-19 vaccination.

“Our GPs are working incredibly hard to contact their patients and invite them to attend a vaccination appointment.

“They will never ask for banking details or for you to prove your identity with personal documents – if you are contacted by someone who is asking for these, hang up immediately.”

If you or anyone you know has been targetted in this way, you can report this to Action Fraud or 0300 123 2040, or report it to the police online or by calling 101.

You can also forward suspicious text messages to 7726  for free and your service provider will then investigate the origin of the text and take action if it is found to be fraudulent.

A leaflet with details of the scam is now being sent out to reach as many people as possible, and support contact details are nearby should they be needed.

Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service has offered to help distribute the leaflet and posters will also be placed in supermarkets, pharmacies and doctors’ surgeries.

You can also download a copy of the leaflet here if you wish to email it or print it off for family and friends.