This is how you can verify you are actually being contacted by the government’s Test and Trace service
Last week, the government launched its Test and Trace service for England, aimed at contacting those who may have come into contact with someone with coronavirus symptoms.
However, soon after the launch, we saw reports on social media that scammers could be exploiting the launch of the service to send fake Test and Trace messages that were actually phishing attempts. We’ve previously seen numerous text message scams during this pandemic.
Over the weekend, Jenny Harries deputy chief medical officer said that people will be able to know if they are genuinely being called by Test and Trace as “it will be very obvious in the conversation that you have with them that they are genuine.”
There are actually a number of much better ways to verify if you are being contacted by genuine NHS Test and Trace staff. You should not rely on how “obvious” it seems someone is genuinely from Test and Trace.
Here are some things to look out for.
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What you will be asked for
Firstly, real contact tracers will never do any of the following:
- Ask you for details of card or bank account numbers
- Ask you to provide or fill in social media login details
- Ask you to set up a pin
- Ask you to download anything
If you are asked for these types of information, you can report the incident to Action Fraud.
You should only be asked for the information found on the contact tracing website and on the gov.uk site.
This will include your full name, date of birth, and details of any symptoms you may have.
How you will be contacted
If you have tested positive for coronavirus, you will either receive a call, text, or email from NHS Test and Trace with instructions on how to share details of people you have been in close recent contact with.
If you’ve been in contact with someone who has tested positive, you will be contacted in the same ways and asked about symptoms.
You will only ever be called from the number 0300 013 5000, or you will be texted from “NHS”.
However, as some have pointed out on Twitter, it is relatively easy for scammers to fake numbers.
Because of this, if you do not feel comfortable talking on the phone, or suspect the call to be a scam, you can ask for an email or a text that will invite you to use the Test and Trace web site instead.
From this email, you should only ever be directed to this web address: contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk
You can check this by looking in the address bar near the top of your web browser to see if this is the address shown—it should also have a small padlock symbol next to it, indicating that the website connection is secure.
If you see a different address, it is likely to be a scam, and you should close the window immediately, and report the site to Google. Check carefully—scammers sometimes buy web addresses that look similar to the real address to fool people.
If in any doubt, always submit information via the Test and Trace website. Genuine tracers will be able to provide you with an account ID during the call, or it will be in a text or email sent.
Hear us talk through this fact check on our weekly podcast.
Update 8 June 2020
We've clarified that the track and trace advice applies to England, not to the rest of the UK.