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Monday, 14 June 2021

Bedfordshire’s frontline services issue warning vaccine scam

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Registration scams could cost life savings

Bedfordshire’s frontline services have issued a warning to residents as criminals use the vaccination programme to create new scams.

These scams could cheat people out of their life savings and put people in danger.

Nationwide, police forces have been made aware of a growing number of scams. These have been a text message claiming to be from the NHS offering the COVID-19 vaccine. The link that accompanies the fake text message takes the reader to a hoax NHS website which requests personal and financial details.

The Police and Crime Commissioner office has been working with the Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Group, Bedfordshire Police, Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, Central Bedfordshire Council, Luton Borough Council and Bedford Borough Council to produce a joint fraud alert.

It is designed to be printed so that it can be sent to as many older and vulnerable residents as possible. Commissioner Holloway said:

“Please share this warning with everyone you know, especially the elderly and vulnerable who may be so desperate to get the vaccine that they will not think as carefully as normal about sharing their personal financial information.

“We all need to be aware that there are no circumstances whatever in which the NHS or your local GP will ask us for our bank details as a condition of receiving this life saving vaccine.”

The NHS will never ask for financial details to enable the vaccination

Over the coming weeks, the flyers will be sent to all partners to ensure as many older and vulnerable residents receive the warning. It is hoped that they keep the information close by so they can refer to if needed or worried.

The Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service will help distribute the information and posters will also be placed in supermarkets, pharmacies and doctors’ surgeries.

The flyer will also be sent out via email and will be available on the Commissioner’s website for anyone who wishes to send or print it off for family and friends who might benefit from the information.

Chief Superintendent John Murphy, Bedfordshire Police’s COVID-19 strategic lead, said:

“Sadly criminals will always look to prey on people’s anxieties. It’s important to talk to vulnerable family members and friends about this scam.

“Explain that they shouldn’t reply to unsolicited messages and give out personal information.

“In Bedfordshire, the vaccine is only available through the NHS and is free of charge so no bank details are required when booking an appointment.”

Dr Sarah Whiteman, medical director for Bedfordshire, Luton and Milton Keynes Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), said:

“Our GPs are working incredibly hard to contact their patients and invite them to attend a vaccination appointment.

“Upon contact, the GP will invite you to a vaccination centre near to you, the NHS will never turn up at your home unannounced. I am concerned that our vulnerable residents may be targeted in this way and if you are worried that someone has been a victim of this fraud, please report this to Action Fraud or 0300 123 2040, or report it to the police online or by calling 101.”

Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to 7726 (which spells “SPAM” on the keypad). This brief, cost-free, code enables your service provider to investigate the origin of the text and take action, if it is found to be fraudulent. You can report fraud through the police’s online reporting centre or by calling 101.

If you have been a victim of a scam or fraud, the PCC’s victim support service for those affected by crime, Signpost, offers free and confidential support in Bedfordshire, whether it has been reported to police or not and irrespective of where and when the crime occurred.

Contact 0800 0282 887 or visit Signpost for Bedfordshire for further information.

John Guinn
I am the editor of The Flitwick Chronicle. This is an independent, local news service based in Bedfordshire. The Chronicle provides local news that is investigative, inclusive and relevant to the residents of Flitwick.

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