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|How To Avoid the Fake Vaccine Fraudsters|
|The UK’s vaccine roll-out is offering light at the end of the tunnel, but sadly it is being exploited by cyber ciminals. Here, Dorset Police Cyber Crime Protect and Prevention Officer Chris Conroy provides advice about how to avoid these fraudsters.|
It’s hard to believe that COVID-19 has been part of our lives for a whole year now. It was late in January 2020 that the UK recorded its first case, and few could ever have imagined what was to follow.
And now, here we are. One year and three national lockdowns later, waiting for the day we can see our friends and family again and forgetting what it’s like to do the things we once took for granted.
Amongst all the turmoil of the last year, there was at least one thing that has remained constant – the unscrupulous nature of cyber criminality. Throughout the pandemic, Dorset Police have warned of scams – fake PPE, fraudulent COVID maps, and Track and Trace scams to name just a few.
Now, as the UK embarks on the mammoth task of vaccinating millions of people, fraudsters are finding ways to use the roll-out to their advantage. The vaccines have promised us a light at the end of the tunnel, something to be truly excited about. This is a perfect set-up for scammers.
There’s often a theme when it comes to a scam. Be it an email, a text message, or a face to face exchange, a fraudster will usually try to exploit human emotion. They are experts at creating a sense of urgency, finding a way to short circuit our rational thought, and getting us to act against our better judgement.
The prospect of a COVID vaccine is undoubtedly emotive, so scammers have jumped at the opportunity, sending fraudulent emails about the rollout. These emails vary, with some asking for sensitive personal information, and others asking recipients to pay for their vaccine.
This has led to the NHS providing guidance on what to expect when you are contacted to receive your vaccine.
What to expect: A letter – Those who are invited to a larger vaccination centre or pharmacy will receive notification in the form of a letter. An SMS or email – Those who are invited to a local centre, such as a hospital or GP surgery, will usually receive a text message or email. In some cases, however, you may receive a letter.
What to look out for:
There is no charge for the COVID vaccine, which is available for free through the NHS. The NHS will never ask for: Bank account, card or other payment details. Banking passwords or PINs Copies of personal documents to prove your identity, such as your passport, driver’s licence, bills or pay slips. If you receive a letter but do not book an appointment, you may receive a phone call from the NHS Immunisation Management Service. This call will come from 0300 561 0240. This call will be a reminder to book your appointment. The caller will see if you need any help or support but will not book an appointment over the phone.
These tips will go a long way towards helping you avoid falling victim to a COVID vaccine scam but, it you’re not sure if the email you receive is genuine, there are a few things you can do to check.
How to check
Firstly, check the sender’s details. At the top of the email, you might see the sender’s name or an email address.
There is usually the option to expand this section, which we recommend doing. Check any email addresses in that section, keeping an eye out for misspellings. Criminals are crafty and will often swap letters for ones that look alike. For example, a capital I looks a lot like a lower-case L.
Secondly, if there’s a link or a button to click, you can check its true destination before you do so. If you’re using a phone or tablet, you can hold (don’t tap) your finger on a link or button. If you’re using a computer, you can hover your cursor over the button without clicking. This will cause the true destination to appear either in a box or at the bottom of your browser.
If these checks give you cause for concern, it’s best to err on the side of caution and assume something isn’t right. After all, if you receive a genuine email and don’t respond, the NHS will call, as detailed above.
If you are suspicious
If you receive what you believe to be a fraudulent email, be sure to report it. Doing so can help keep other people safe. Simply forward any suspicious emails to firstname.lastname@example.org. The automated system will do the rest and if it is deemed to be dodgy, the service will take steps to have the site removed.
If you are unfortunate enough to fall for a scam of this nature, please make sure you report it to Action Fraud.
As ever, if you have any questions about cyber safety, please feel free to email us at email@example.com.
It’s been a tough year and whist it might be hard to see that light at the end of the tunnel, it is there. If you’re struggling, remember there is always someone to speak to. Organisations like Citizens Advice and Samaritans are helping people with financial and mental health concerns. We’ll get through this.
Until next time, stay safe out there, and please keep following the guidance.
Cyber Crime Protect and Prevention Officer
|Message Sent By|
PCC Communications (Dorset Police and Crime Commissioner, Communications and Engagement, Dorset)
Not sure yet how relevant this is but in the expectation that there will be a return to the Three Tier System after the new national lockdown:
and people may also find this site interesting as you can check the number of covid positive cases reported by post code:
Check the current state of alert level by local area:
and how the kits work https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/how-tests-and-testing-kits-for-coronavirus-covid-19-work/for-patients-the-public-and-professional-users-a-guide-to-covid-19-tests-and-testing-kits
Although this organisation has practically completed its work the administrative arrangements remain in place should it be needed in the future at full swing. The telephone number below has been diverted to a personal mobile which will be checked once a day so if desperation sets in then someone will respond, but the expectation is that most, if not all folk have found a means to deal with any follow on issues.
Telephone and leave a message on: 07745 796 118.
Anyone seeking help will have given the Group personal information (name, address and contact details) which will be recorded so that a volunteer can be sent to assist. On arrival those details will need to be confirmed and the volunteer may well record further information on a piece of paper or on a mobile telephone in order to help remember things. Please be assured that they are doing this to act in everyone’s best interests but the Law on protection of personal information must apply. Nobody wants this to get in the way of providing the help needed but folk should be aware that only the necessary information will be taken and will only be shared with those who are helping to overcome your problem. The information given will be destroyed when this is all over.
Personal information will be kept secure in the same way as anyone would keep their own. The volunteers will not discuss any information outside of the Affpuddle and Turnerspuddle Parish Council COVID-19 Response Group or with anyone who doesn’t need to know. For more detail please read the Response Group privacy statement on the following link:
Any resident who has a concern about COVID 19 who cannot access on-line services and would prefer to talk to Dorset Council for example to fnd out how to access services when isolating or financial worries if their personal financial circumstances have changed. The general number is 01305 221000 and the email is firstname.lastname@example.org The super shielded number is 01305 221022. Lines will be open from 8am to 8pm, 7 days a week.
A Facebook Page has been set up for anyone living in the parish who would like to volunteer to support the community, is in need themselves, or is isolated and just looking for a way of interacting and socialising.
Log in to https://www.facebook.com/login/ and search for “Briantspuddle CV-19”
As well as some good people around there are some really nasty ones too who will take advantage of the current situation and who can be fairly persuasive. Dorset Police have issued advice which is well worth reading;
The box for the Wareham Food Bank has moved from St Laurence’s Church at Affpuddle to Briantspuddle Village Hall. The Hall will be open via the main entrance during Shop opening times to provide a waiting postion for use of the Shop and Post Office whilst the the restriction of the number of people in the shop at any one time is in place.
There are several outlets in Dorchester offering collect delivery and collect services. DorchesterDorset.com is a website created by the Dorchester Business Improvement District (BID) with a page now especially devoted to this emergency.
We hope you and your families are well. In the current situation the Screen Bites festival has been put on the shelf for a while but we have not forgotten your love of good food and our local food producers are still making and baking! We would like to help you to eat well and find delicious staples and treats without having to venture into a supermarket – so have updated the Screen Bites website with the food producers who are still operating and offering delivery/collection.
Lots of organisations in Wareham can help with provisions including pet supplies read the document on the following link to see details:
Kevin has been our milkman for many years and can deliver more than just milk. Why not give him a call and see what he can do. Telephone 01305 775561 or email email@example.com
check out their website https://keep106.com This is a Dorchester radio station on 106.3 FM which might provide a little bit of light relief from national stations.
check out https://www.serenade-radio.com
Dorset County Hospital Charity has launched the DCH COVID-19 Appeal to raise funds to provide extra support to the hospital’s staff working under immense pressure during the coronavirus pandemic. If you would like to donate to the DCH COVID-19 Appeal please visit the appeal page of the Dorset County Hospital on their website https://www.dchft.nhs.uk/about/DCH-charity/Pages/COVID-19-Appeal.aspx