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Highland Council Trading Standards warns Of scam "TestNTrace" Covid-19 text messages

By Alan Shields

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Members of the public should watch out for a Covid-19 scam text message.
Members of the public should watch out for a Covid-19 scam text message.

Highland Council's Trading Standards department is warning unsuspecting members of the public to be on their guard and not to fall victim to a Covid-19 contact tracing text scam that is currently in circulation.

The scam involves an unsolicited text message from ‘TestNTrace’ advising the recipient that they have been a close contact of someone who has contracted the Omicron variant.

It invites the recipient to order a PCR test kit via a fake NHS link within the text.

Trading Standards Team Leader Mark McGinty states, “This appears to be a smishing scam, a type of scam that uses a text message to engage to obtain personal and financial information from unsuspecting victims. I would urge everyone to be very wary of unexpected text messages, particularly if they contain links.

"Please avoid clicking on any links unless you are 100 percent sure that the message is genuine. Depending on the scam, you may unwittingly download malware or viruses and could even give access to your internet passwords.

"The link may also take you to a website which is fake and asks for your information. Of course, if you provide it, you will be giving your information straight to a scammer who will use it and you may suffer financial loss as a result.”

Trading Standards advice is:

If you accidentally click the link then immediately close the web page.

Never enter passwords or other personal information onto any page you have opened by clicking a link from an unsolicited text message.

Reset any passwords you may have revealed.

If you have entered card details – freeze you card; many accounts offer this service, and immediately contact your card provider.

Suspicious text messages should be forwarded to the number 7726, which is free of charge, then delete the message.

NHS Scotland contact tracers will only text members of the public directly and will always call from the same national number – 0800 030 8012.

Should members of the public need information on Covid-19 contact tracing, they are advised in the first instance to visit NHSInform Test and Protect for official guidance.

Dr Tim Allison, Director of Public Health with NHS Highland, said: “As we all continue the work to keep COVID-19 under control, we unfortunately also have to be aware of scams and people who want to use the pandemic to take advantage of us.

"If you are ever unsure of a message you have received in relation to Covid-19 Test and Trace, call NHS Scotland’s National Contact Centre on 0800 030 8012.”

Further advice on consumer related matters can be found by contacting the Scottish Government's Consumer Advice provider consumeradvice.scot. If you feel you are a victim of a scam, please contact Police Scotland on 101.

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