As contact tracing rolls out across the UK, it's feared scammers will take advantage of the system to con people into handing over personal details.
NHS Track and Trace aims to stem the spread of coronavirus by asking those with positive test results to share details about the people they've been in contact with recently who may have caught the virus as a result.
The NHS will get in touch with those who have tested positive, as well as those who have been in contact with positive cases. In England, you may be contacted by text or phone, but in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, the NHS will currently only contact you by phone.
Unfortunately, the personal details NHS Track and Trace may ask for is exactly the kind of information scammers need to trick people out of money - so the scheme is a prime target.
Luckily, there are some key ways to check whether the call is genuine or fake
If you're contacted and told you've tested positive
If you have taken a coronavirus test, you'll usually be contacted within 72 hours with the result.
Obviously, if you have not taken a coronavirus test in the past 72 hours and you are contacted by someone telling you you've tested positive, the call is not genuine.
In England, you may get an email or text - if it is genuine, it will not ask you for personal details upfront. Instead, you'll be given a unique ID number which you use to log into the NHS England Test and Trace website. The official web address for this is contact-tracing.phe.gov.uk
Check the URL carefully to make sure it matches the official one.
Once you've logged in, you'll be asked some personal information such as:
- Current address
- Name, date of birth
- Names of people you live with
- Places you've recently visited
- Contact details of people you were in touch with around 48 hours before you developed symptoms
If you can't access the website, you'll be asked to give these details over the phone. In Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales you'll have to give these details over the phone regardless.
Be wary of any apps claiming to aid contact tracing, as no official ones are operating UK-wide currently.
If you're contacted and told you've been in contact with a positive case
In this instance, you'll be asked to self-isolate for 14 days and given advice on symptoms and what to look out for.
Importantly, you won't be asked for any personal details, payment details or details of anyone you've been in contact with. It's a red flag if you're asked for this.
In both cases, calls and texts will come from the verified NHS number: 0300 013 5000.
There is a risk, however, that this number could be spoofed - so look out for other signs that could indicate a scam. Calls from numbers other than this, or calls without a caller ID are not genuine.