This text message is not an official government communication

26th Mar 2020

Claim

This text message shows the government is monitoring people leaving the house during coronavirus lockdown.

Conclusion

This is not an official government text.

Several posts on social media have claimed that they received text messages from the government either warning or fining them for not following coronavirus lockdown advice. 

One text reads: “You have been out of your house 3 times today, you are in breach of government guidelines. Your £30 fine will automatically be added to your bill.”

Another says: “You have left your home more than once today and was at considerable distance from your home. As this isn’t a location such as work, shopping, medical assistance, this is your final warning to comply to government guideline. Fail to do may result in fines.”

People across the country have received texts from “UK_Gov” or a similarly named sender telling them to stay at home. These real messages were included in many of the misleading posts.

However, the texts shown in the posts that followed this first message with warnings of fines. These are not real.

These texts have been confirmed as scams by at least one police force, though there are other clues which indicate these messages are not from the government.

The messages feature a number of spelling mistakes and grammatical errors which would not be present in official government communications. 

In examples of the texts where the receiver is asked to call a number or visit a website, we have verified that neither are active. 

We can’t definitely say whether the UK government is tracking phone data more broadly right now. There have been some reports of the government working with networks to get anonymised data on whether people are following social distancing guidelines.