NHS COVID-19 vaccine passport scam sent to holidaymakers
The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has been made aware of a phoney email clad in NHS branding, informing the recipient that they can supposedly apply for a digital vaccine passport. The message claims that the so-called "Coronavirus Digital Passport" proves that you have been vaccinated against COVID-19 and "allow(s) you to travel safely and freely around the world without having to self-isolate."
The email message links to a website built to look like an official NHS platform that asks the recipient to provide personal details, which could be used to commit identity fraud. This scam is not the first of its kind to use the theme of the pandemic as a vehicle with fake tests, bogus business grants, homeworking scams, a Test and Trace scam, and many others witnessed since the first lockdown in March 2020.
The vaccine passport scam arrives when the UK's health services have launched legitimate vaccine passports, and while many are looking to travel for summer holidays.
Katherine Hart, a Lead Officer at CTSI, said: "This is yet another example of unscrupulous fraudsters taking advantage of the pandemic to line their pockets. We all hope that the summer brings some enjoyment after what has been a period of unprecedented challenges for everyone, but scammers want to ruin that.
"It is vital that we not only avoid these scams, but also report them to Action Fraud, or if in Scotland, contact Police Scotland. More data received means that the authorities can build a richer picture and identify the full scale of this serious issue.
Bruce Treloar, CTSI Lead Officer for Holiday and Travel Law, added: "Holidaymakers should keep up to date with the UK Government's traffic light system for existing travel recommendations, and apply for an NHS COVID Pass if a resident of England or the respective systems for Scotland and Wales if resident in those nations. Digital health passports will go live in Northern Ireland this month.
"Holidaymakers should also search for providers that offer flexible booking policies in the event of traffic light changes. Doing this could potentially save holidaymakers money in the event of a colour change."
For consumer advice, please call the Citizens Advice Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133
The public is encouraged to join Friends Against Scams. This initiative aims to protect and prevent people from becoming scam victims by empowering them to stand against scams.