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Scam alert: fake NHS coronavirus contact tracing text

Some people are receiving fake text messages claiming they’ve been in contact with someone who’s tested positive for COVID-19. Here’s what it looks like.

We’ve been made aware of a fake SMS text that links to a made-up coronavirus contact tracing service. If you follow the link, the site asks for your personal details.

But there’s only one official contact tracing service you can trust, and that’s the one being run by the NHS in England. Its web address is https://contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk.

This is what the fake text looks like:

While this warning relates specifically to England’s test and trace service, it’s important to note that anyone across the UK could receive this fake text message at any time – scammers will often send smishing attempts to large numbers of people, regardless of their location.

 

How to tell if a contact tracing text is real

NHS Test and Trace might text or call you to warn you if you’ve recently been in contact with someone who tests positive for the virus.

You can tell if it’s genuine if it includes a unique ID number. This ID number should allow you to log into the official Test and Trace website.

Instead of following any links included in the text, go to the website from your web browser and enter the ID number you’ve been given.

You could also check whether the text came from the only number dedicated to the NHS tracing service, which is 0300 013 5000. However, there are concerns it could be affected by number spoofing.

No other messaging services are being used to contact people. If you get a message like this on WhatsApp, Telegram or Facebook, for example, you can be sure it’s fake.

Fake NHS texts: how you can tell the difference

Be cautious and report suspicious messages

If you do receive a suspect Test and Trace message, report it to Action Fraud. The National Cyber Security Centre is also encouraging reporting phishing attempts to report@phishing.gov.uk.

Scammers are taking advantage of the pandemic in any way they can to try and steal information and money.

Be generally suspicious of any unusual or unexpected messages that ask for personal information about you or your friends and family.

You can read more about what to watch out for in our guide to spotting scams.

If you’ve received a text like this, or have seen any other messages about the coronavirus outbreak that you think could be fraudulent, tell us about it below in the comments.

Comments
jackie says:
11 February 2022

Text arrived advising I had been in contact with someone with Omicron variant. Phone number 07759129475. Suggesting going to a website to get an urgent test.

Watts says:
12 February 2022

NHS: You’ve been near someone with the Omicron Variant. Apply for a Test Kit today: https://urgent-test-kit.com

[Moderator: this website appears to be a scam website. We’ve retained the URL to help you identify it, but we’ve redirected the link to our guidance on how to spot fraudulent website. ]

I received a text alert this morning from ‘NHSTracing’. I was suspicious because it addressed me by my first name and not my surname, so I followed your advice and used the URL on this page to access the NHS Test and Trace website. The code in the text message was not accepted by the webpage when I entered my usual NHS password.
I never use my mobile phone to respond to text messages and I have an old iPhone 6 which cannot run the NHS tracing app. so I had no intention of using the link in the message! This was probably a good thing. Thanks for your advice.

I received a text marked urgent informing me that I had been in close contact with someone who has recently tested positive for omicron. Please order a PCR test. The link was https://your-pcr-order.com The telephone number sending this text was07561082857. I don’t have the track and trace app so knew it was a scam text. I forwarded this text to 7726.

[Moderator: this website appears to be a scam website. We’ve retained the URL to help you identify it, but we’ve redirected the link to our guidance on how to spot fraudulent website. ]

Yes I had one of these yesterday. Luckily came to work mobile which was not registered for test and trace. Also not been in contact with anyone since Tuesday before. Did look at the site. It was a VERY good fake but something felt wrong. Decided to look on line for proper NHS site and then phoned 119 to check. They told me this was, as I thought, a scam.

David Bristow says:
15 March 2022

Received today – only spotted when the website asked for card details to pay a delivery fee – and after I’d given name, address, phone and date of birth.
Test and Trace: Someone you have been in close contact with has tested positive. You must book a test kit: https://pcr-test-delivery.com

[Moderator: this website appears to be a scam website. We’ve retained the URL to help you identify it, but we’ve redirected the link to our guidance on how to spot fraudulent website. ]

Kaz says:
26 March 2022

Had a text message from 07786 306487 saying “Contact Tracing: You have been identified as being in close contact of a confirmed case. You must book a test kit: https://pcr-my-order.com“. Was concerned and didn’t follow link, this is a scam message.

Dave Anthony says:
1 May 2022

My partner just received one from…
nhs.test-kit-delivery.com
…unnervingly it came through at the end of her text string from the local surgery.

kc says:
24 May 2022

same, received a text from a mobile number to follow a link, to say i have been in contact with someone with omicron variant.