Following the Government’s announcement that people needed to stay at home and comply with lockdown requirements, an official text message from Whitehall was sent out across all mobile phone networks, urging people to comply.
But in the aftermath of this genuine Government communication, people have been receiving fake text messages from scammers that appear designed to capture their bank account details.
One of the fake messages reads as follows: "We would like to inform you that you have been recorded as leaving your home on 3 occasions yesterday. A fine of £35 has been added to your gov.uk account. For further information please visit gov.uk/coronavirus-penalty-payment-tracking. Protect the NHS. Save Lives."
If people visit this link, and provide their payment details, they are revealing their bank account data and at risk of losing even more money.
Another fake message appears to not only aim to trick people into revealing their bank details but to also cause alarm and distress by suggesting the Government is tracking people’s movements.
Entitled GOV.UK CORONAVIRUS ALERT - this message states: “You have exited the specified 1 mile radius on three separate occasions today. A penalty notice has been issued to your address held on the electoral roll. More info & appeals can be found at gov.uk/cvpenalty. Stay at home. Protect the NHS. Save lives.”
Wandsworth Council leader Ravi Govindia said: “Unfortunately the scammers have no qualms at all about preying on people’s fears and concerns to make a fast buck – even in the midst of a life or death health crisis.
“There has been only one genuine text message from Government. This was about a week ago and said nothing about fines or tracking people’s movements. People can rest assured that any message to the contrary is completely fake and only designed to trick you into revealing your personal information.
“It is perfectly safe to ignore these messages. No-one is being given fines by text message and no one is tracking your movements.”
If you receive a call, text or other communication that you think might be a scam, hang up or delete the text and report it to Action Fraud, including the number that was used to contact you.
Photos - if you get these messages, IGNORE them, they are scams