People are being warned to be on their guard against scammers posing as the tracer contact ENM.
Local councils in England and Wales have issued alerts following reports of false calls and messages asking you for money to cover the cost of coronavirus test kits.
The boards include Hampshire, Bath and the North East Somerset, and Bournemouth, Christchurch and Poole.
Official tracers never ask for payment of any kind or bank details.
The test and trace system is part of the government’s efforts to reduce the spread of coronavirus, contact with tracers to get in touch with those who have recently had close contact with a person who tested positive for Covid -19.
However, a number of fraudsters use their advantage and posing as tracer contacts to trick people into spending money or personal information.
The Association of Local Governments (LGA) says that “the ruthless scam” has been “another source of worry and disgusting attempt to cheat people of their money by feeding on public fears”.
A recent investigation by Council Citizens found more than one in three people in the UK have been the target of various scams since lockdown began.
AGL’s Stronger Communities Chair, Simon Blackburn, said the latest scam to come to light undermined “essential work to save lives by exploiting people who want to do the right thing and stop the spread of virus ”.
In the scam, a message or a phone call claiming to be from the ENM test and oligo-service informs someone that they have been in contact with the coronavirus and the need to self isolate and do a test.
The scammers ask them to confirm their address so a test kit can be sent to them. Credit card details are then requested – supposedly to cover the cost of the test kit.
In a real call, contact with plotters never:
- ask you to dial a premium rate number (for example, from 09 or 087)
- ask you to make any form of payment
- ask for all details about your bank account
- ask for your social media, identities or login information, or those of your contacts
- ask yourself for all passwords, pin codes, or ask you to set up passwords or pin codes on the phone
- are you asking for the purchase of a product – including a test
- ask you to download software for your device, or ask you to control your PC, smartphone or tablet
- ask you to access any website that does not belong to the government or the ENM
Anyone who receives a call that they suspect is not authentic should report the call to Fraud Action.