Warning issued over Covid-19 home testing scam

The public has been warned to be alert to scam text messages offering coronavirus home tests which instead look to give thieves access to property.

The Chartered Trading Standards Institute (CTSI) has released evidence of the scam, which poses as NHS contact tracers and says a “home testing team” will visit the message recipient to carry out a test for the virus.

The message, which says it has been sent by “NHS-NoReply”, tells the recipient the team will “enter your property and we will remain inside the front door to put on our protective clothing. You must wait in a separate room before we come to you”.

The institute described the scam as an effort to gain access to people’s homes “under the cover of coronavirus measures”.

It is the latest in a number of scams uncovered which attempt to use fear around the Covid-19 pandemic to carry out fraud or other crimes.

Image of a scam text message found by the Chartered Trading Standards Institute
The scam messages tell recipients they will be visited at home (Chartered Trading Standards Institute/PA)

The CTSI said those who receive the message should be aware that the NHS Test and Trace scheme would never ask for financial details, Pins or passwords and will never visit someone’s home.

When the NHS programme was launched, deputy chief medical officer for England Dr Jenny Harries said “it will be very obvious” when a member of the public is contacted by someone from the programme.

The Government website for the scheme said calls will come from a single phone number – 0300 013 5000 or via text messages sent from “NHS”, which will ask users to sign in to the official NHS test and trace website and for their full name and date of birth to confirm their identity.

The CTSI said anyone who receives a message they believe to be a scam should contact Action Fraud or forward the message to 7726, which spells “spam” on a phone keypad and is Ofcom’s spam reporting service.

Katherine Hart, CTSI lead officer for doorstep crime, said: “This is simply an attempt by thieves to gain access to people’s homes under cover of coronavirus measures.

“Members of the public should ignore these text messages and report them to Action Fraud in England and Wales, or to Police Scotland if in Scotland.”