/ Scams

Scam alert: fake NHS COVID-19 vaccine text

A dangerous fake NHS text has been circulating, telling people they’re eligible to apply for the COVID-19 vaccine. Here’s what it looks like.

A member got in touch with us today when they received a text message purporting to be from the NHS.

It confusingly stated that “we have identified that your are eligible to apply for your vaccine” and advised him to follow a link to get more information and ‘apply’:

This URL takes you through to an extremely convincing fake NHS website that asks for your personal details, but the member became suspicious when it asked for his bank/card details in order to ‘check his identity’.

It was then that he began spotting spelling mistakes on the site and in the SMS itself, which we’ve warned many times before are classic signs of a phishing scam.

We found that the fake site was also registered just two days ago – another reason to be suspicious, and one that demonstrates the importance of reporting these scams as soon as you receive them.

As of 26 January, variants of this scam are now also being reported:

Remain vigilant of coronavirus scams

We know that criminals will use the confusion and urgency around the pandemic as a way to target potential victims – we’ve covered five similar attempts here on Which? Conversation already:

⚠ Council tax reduction phishing email

⚠ Fake NHS contact tracing text

⚠ HMRC Government grant phishing email

⚠ Microsoft ‘covid relief fund’ phishing email

⚠ COVID-19 vitamin pill cold calls

With the recent approval of multiple vaccines in the UK, these types of scam attempts are likely to continue as fraudsters look to take advantage of the rollout to so many people.

Our advice

If you think you may have handed over your card details to scammers, let your bank know what’s happened immediately.

You can then attempt to recover any money lost by following our guide here.

Have you received this fake NHS vaccine text or any other type of scam relating to the vaccine?

Let us know in the comments if you have, and please do share this warning with friends and family so we can prevent anyone from falling victim.


Update 7/1/2021: Cold calls

Cold calls regarding the vaccine are also beginning to take place – we’ve already had reports of scammers asking people to pay for it over the phone:

If you receive one of these calls, hang up.

The NHS will contact you when it is your turn to receive the vaccine, likely by letter from your GP or from the NHS itself. However, if you’re aged 70 or over or you’ve previously received a letter saying you’re high-risk, you no longer need to wait to be contacted and can book your appointment online.

Read more about the COVID-19 vaccine rollout, and what it means for you

Comments
Martin says:
12 March 2021

From EE mobile number: +44 7949 758499

NHS: We have identified that you are eligible to apply for a vaccination. For further information on how to apply, follow here: https://Nhsvaccination.eligibility-form.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. ]

It doesn’t help people identify genuine sites when they use links like the one I got:
http://accurx.thirdparty.nhs.uk/r/3ujpsv1234 (end digits changed, checked and told invite code is mistyped)

The following day I received a phone call to book me in the next day.

The way this was done goes against all my defences to avoid getting scammed. As both car batteries were flat at the time, I got her phone number and called back when I had a chance to research the information I had and decide it was genuine.

I suppose the quoted url had to be an NHS one – they love making simple things complicated.

A scam website would have been called . . . bookyourvaxdirect . . . or . . . jabs4U . . .

Chantal Lewis says:
28 March 2021

I received a text message on my phone in January, from they said, my GP practice to go online to book a vaccine slot, a couple of days after announcing via the media they’d start my age group. Fortunately I had two genuine messages from the practice and GP kept on my phone. Thanks to my regular reading of Which scams, etc I was wary about clicking so I put the link address on my laptop and nothing came, didn’t work. Comparing the scam gp practice address with the genuine ones I realised it was a scam and chucked it out after blocking the address. The only difference with the genuine address were extra spaces in the name.
I realise now that it may have been the same “problem” link address as Alpha reader, 24/3/21 . Have I become too wary??!

You can never be too wary Chantal, and it is always better to be safe than sorry.

I have also had emails from my GP surgery with the name of the practice as the sender, so to get one with the sender name as GPSurgery and a link to a website starting with ‘accurx’ just looks fake at first glance.

My father received one on March 31 regarding the second jab and it contained an email address. This text is fake and I have notified the NHS Covid Team of its existence. I have pasted the entire text below so if your loved ones receive this text – it is not real!!!

We have now rescheduled all 2nd dose COVID-19 Vaccination appointments where the 1st dose was given prior to the 1st February. Please check that you have received your booking confirmation email with a new date and time, dont forget to check your junk email too. Please make every effort to attend your new appointment. If you experience any problems, please email: [edited]
We are sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused, but please be assured that have worked hard to ensure that everyone gets their second dose at the right time.
Thank you for your understanding
COVID-19 Team

[Moderator: we’ve removed an email address from this comment. Please don’t post personal contact details, as this is to protect people’s privacy. For more information see the Community guidelines]

I have today received a text from a mobile number advising me that my covid vaccine is booked for 9:30am today at QE hospital Birmingham and I must park on car park B and ensure I’m there on this exact date and time. There is a link for “directions” in the text (which I haven’t clicked). The strange thing is, I do have my 2nd covid vaccine today but it is close to where I live and at the end of the day. This must be a scam.

Hi, i am not sure what to make of these texts i have recieved giving me a time and place for my appointment for the vaccination(local leisure centre.. It just gives me a number to call if i can’t make it. This one seems legitimate? Any thoughts?

[Moderator: we’ve edited this comment to remove personally identifiable information, as this is not allowed in the Community guidelines. Please don’t post people’s names, addresses, or other personally identifiable information – even if you suspect it is made up. This is to protect everyone’s privacy.]

Hi Lisa – I suggest you use the gov.uk site, which is a safe way to access official websites, without the risk of accessing rogue sites. If you look up vaccination, this will take you to the bookings page on the NHS website. You are right to be suspicious even though the text is may well be genuine.

I doubt if it is genuine if it has already made an appointment for you or someone you care for. In my experience you are informed you qualify for a vaccine and are invited to choose an appointment.

As an aside, I see many comments coming to Convos like this from unregistered members and wonder how they find the appropriate Convo. In itself that is good. But how best to help them? The comments show many do not read what has already been said and that is often because no one summarises key points and experiences that are posted. Convos would be a lot more useful if Which? kept pace with useful comments and experiences so we do not get so much repetition.

I often turn up Conversations when doing web searches and I expect that others do the same. Recently there was a post in a Convo that had been inactive for about ten years.

I’ve tried to help Lisa.

Thank you Wavechange, you have been helpful. Apologies if i haven’t read through many posts, i am sure it is tiresome when people ask lazy questions without a thorough check as Malcom R suggests..
Wavechange, You are correct that i did come across this thread via doing a random google search..
I will take that one on the chin.. thank you for your thoughts both.

Hi Lisa – There is no need for apologies. It’s useful to look for existing information but most of us learn more from each other than by looking at books and websites, and repetition is part of the learning process.

There is a search system on Which? Conversation but it’s not very effective. If you are looking for a discussion about a particular topic please ask.

Lisa, my comment was not a criticism of your contribution to this Conversation. Quite the opposite; I was looking at how such Convos could be made more useful.

As I said, it is good that you and others can find this forum, but added β€œhow best to help them”? Many issues have already been discussed and my criticism was that such information was not collated and summarised regularly. This could help many people who visit the Convo with questions that have been previously discussed but lost from view.

New experiences should be added and commented on to help others, but are only useful if they are kept visible. It is a feature lacking in many Conversations. I would like to see serious topics properly develop so all those raise questions and make contributions feel they are doing something worthwhile.

Yes, agreed. At least with Which? Conversation it wouldn’t take long to assemble a worthwhile set of Frequently Asked Questions and then synthesize useful answers to them.

Of course Malcolm, so true.
However, i do think, that taking the time to read through is probably sensible. Thanks for your feedback.
Sorry if i misunderstood

Thanks Lisa. The problem is that these Convos can run to many pages and it really is not reasonable to expect everyone to read all previous comments. This becomes impossible when Which? promote a particular Convo and attract a tsunami of comments.

As John says, one way is to publish FAQs with a relevant Conversation, keep it updated and direct commenters to it initially to see if it helps them.

Another way is, in addition, to regularly update the introduction.

Did you find out whether your appointment message was genuine or a fake?

Patrick Taylor says:
24 May 2021

I would point out that posting a picture of oneself does make it easier to track someone through other social data and perhaps get a location. If W? is concerned foremost about online security surely pictures [and possible real names] are not wise?

I did try the number that was sent with the text.
The automated system does seem genuine at first but then as it rolls out , you don’t seem to be able to actually speak with a real human. You do get given a website address to go to to book/reschedulean appointment. As there were no personal details in the text i recieved, i am still sceptical.
I will update if i find out anything more.

Thanks, Lisa, for keeping us updated. So many people just leave a question and are never heard from again.
Had you thought of asking your surgery/health centre whether the message was legitimate?

Thanks. It is always useful to get the whole story.

With regard to summarising Conversations to make things easier for readers I am in total agreement.

Malcolm.. This is where my situation is a little different, hence me wondering about the text in the first place.
I have recently moved to a new address and whilst i have informed my old surgery i have not yet registered with a new one, mainly due to the current situation. I will enquire when i hand my registration docs in and see if they can advise ..Will be glad to post back when or if they can enlighten me.

Lisa – Here is official information about notification about vaccination: https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/coronavirus-vaccination/how-you-will-be-contacted/ In my case I received a call from my GP and a letter did not arrive until after I had been vaccinated.

I presume that your records will be held by your old surgery until you register with a new GP. A friend who had not registered with a local surgery after moving and as a result had to drive nearly 100 miles to go to a vaccination centre near his old address.

You may be able to register with a GP without visiting the surgery: https://www.nhs.uk/nhs-services/gps/how-to-register-with-a-gp-surgery/

Lisa, thanks.

Wavechange. Oh my gosh, 100 miles. Thank you so much for the info and links you have provided, so helpful.
I have managed to hand in my registration now. I had not made an appointment with my surgery in so long, i am surprised i was still in the system hahahaa!
I suppose, that is a blessing! 🀭
It also seems that in Wales, my age group is still being called, apparantly i am not left behind as yet. Still baffled by the authenticity of the text message but i am determined to find out now. Always best to be cautious. Thank you for all the help everyone.

Best of luck with the investigation, Lisa. I have nothing against text messages being used to let us know that it’s our turn to book but there is no need to provide a link. We could be told to visit gov.uk and search for vaccination. The links on gov.uk are a safe way of accessing official services.

Gaz says:
30 May 2021

Received an email about “pre-vaccination screening”, not sent to us by name but a general email to “recipients”, about a vaccination centre close to us, but the date was wrong. Having had both jabs myself, I never received a message like this before. Pretty sure this is a scam!

These scammers don’t know who they are addressing . . . it’s mostly just a stab in the dark.