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NHS Test and Trace: Spotting the scammers

The Test and Trace service was launched last month to help people who develop symptoms of Coronavirus to be tested quickly, and to trace all recent close contacts of anyone who tests positive.

Since this has begun, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) said the public has sent it 600,000 scam emails since the start of the pandemic, all trying to use confusion and worry around the outbreak to their advantage. We hope the information below will help to identify a real from a fake Test and Trace call.

As per the national guidance, if you develop symptoms of coronavirus, you must isolate for seven days, while anyone else in your household must self-isolate for 14 days from when you started having symptoms. You also need to order a test immediately from www.nhs.uk/coronavirus or call 119 if you have no internet access. Alternatively, it may be easier for you to attend a drop-in testing centre, such as the one in Slough.

Whichever route you choose, as you go through the process of testing, you will be informed about how the test results will be communicated back to you. Remember – if you haven’t taken a coronavirus test in the past few days, but you get a call about a positive test, then the call isn’t real. Hang up immediately and report the call to Action Fraud.

You may be contacted by the NHS Test and Trace service if you have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus. You'll be contacted by email, text or phone.

Text messages will come from NHStracing. Calls will come from 0300 0135000.

Children under 18 will be contacted by phone wherever possible and asked for their parent or guardian's permission to continue the call.

You'll be asked to sign in to the NHS Test and Trace contact tracing website at https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk.

On the contact tracing website, you'll be asked for information including:

  • your name, date of birth and postcode
  • if you live with other people
  • any places you've been recently, such as a workplace or school
  • names and contact details of any people you were in close contact with in the 48 hours before your symptoms started (if you know these details)

If you cannot use the contact tracing website, you'll be asked for this information over the phone.

The NHS Test and Trace service will NOT:

  • 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

Please remember: you will only be asked to pass on the details of anyone you have been in contact with, if you have tested positive or have developed symptoms. If you are asked to hand over this information to a caller or by replying to a message, the call will not be genuine.

NHStracing is a protected sender ID. However, it may be possible for the text number 0300 013 5000 to be hijacked by scammers. Calls from withheld or other numbers, should be considered fake.

“Full Fact,” the UK’s independent fact checking charity, has clarified that the NHS Test and Trace app, has not been automatically downloaded, without user permission, onto people’s Android phones under the name “COVID-19 exposure notifications”. What phone users can see is not a contact tracing app in itself, but rather the underlying technology that allows coronavirus tracking apps to work across devices. The NHS Test and Trace app is not yet available across England, but when it is, users will be requested to download the app and turn on the exposure notifications.

If you are worried about a Test and Trace scam, you can report it to Action Fraud with any information you can provide, such as numbers and email addresses.  If you have given away any personal details such as your bank account information, please let your bank know as soon as possible. They will be able to help you protect your accounts.

Frimley Health and Care