NHS COVID-19 digital vaccine passport application scams: how to spot fake emails and texts

NHS COVID-19 digital vaccine passport application scams: how to spot fake emails and texts

Fake emails and texts inviting you to apply for your NHS vaccine digital passport are already doing the rounds. Here’s what to watch out for and how to stay safe.

Lisa-Marie Voneshen

Rights, Scams and Politics

Lisa-Marie Voneshen
Updated on 28 June 2021

Scammers are already hijacking the NHS COVID digital passport scheme in a bid to trick people out of cash.

The NHS vaccine passport, which is free, can be used to prove you’re vaccinated against coronavirus before attending events or when travelling abroad.

And scammers are looking to take advantage of all the media coverage being given to the digital passports be sending out fake emails and texts inviting you to apply, but which take you through to a scam website that steals your personal data.

Before we explain what this scam looks like and how it works, we’ll reveal how you can get a vaccine passport – if you’re eligible.

How do I get an NHS COVID vaccine passport?

You can get an NHS COVID vaccine passport (or test results) either:

  • Two weeks after your second coronavirus jab (the digital pass will automatically renew every 28 days);
  • As soon as you get a negative PCR test or a rapid lateral flow test (valid for 48 hours after a negative result);
  • After you’ve completed self-isolation (test results valid for up to 180 days if you’ve had a positive PCR test).

Children under the age of 16 cannot get an NHS COVID pass.

You can get your NHS COVID pass digitally either via the NHS app or the online service, but you’ll need an NHS login, which you can create if you don’t have one.

Alternatively, you can get an NHS COVID passport letter (with no expiry date) sent in the post to prove you’re vaccinated against coronavirus. You can request this online or by calling 119.

In May, Action Fraud warned about fake coronavirus certificates and passports, and there were reports claiming scammers used sites such as eBay to sell fake vaccine cards for as little as £5, sparking fears that some people will use these to flout travel rules.

Private COVID-19 vaccine: can you pay for the coronavirus jab?

Fake digital passport scam: how it works

Sadly, several media reports have emerged of scammers posing as the NHS asking people via email to apply for ‘digital coronavirus passports.’

An example of one of these scams is shown in the above tweet, which claims UK citizens and legal residents are eligible when the legitimate NHS COVID pass has stricter eligibility as we mentioned earlier. 

If you click on the link, you’ll be taken to a fake site that is designed to look like the NHS where you fill in your personal information and payment details for an ‘administration fee' – but the genuine NHS COVID vaccine passport is free.

These will then be used to drain your account.

How to avoid vaccine passport scams

If you haven’t received an invitation for your free COVID-19 jab, you’ll most likely to be able to book an appointment online as this service is now available for those aged 18 or over.

In January, a COVID-19 vaccine text message scam was doing the rounds – here’s how to stay safe.

As we’ve mentioned in several loveMONEY articles, never click on links in social media posts or suspicious texts and emails – and don’t enter any personal or financial information.

If you do and you think it’s a scam, contact your bank immediately.

You should also be wary of any out of the blue approaches about the COVID-19 vaccine. If in doubt, check the official NHS site for information or contact the organisation in question directly.

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