RESIDENTS and businesses across Bradford district have been warned to be on their guard against Covid-19 scammers.

The alarm follows new reports that opportunistic criminals are taking advantage of the coronavirus pandemic, in a bid to steal cash and personal data from vulnerable people.

In one of the attempted scams, a rogue caller targeted a Bradford household claiming to be from the new Test and Trace service, and asked a raft of personal details to enable registration to the NHS app supporting the initiative. 

When challenged about the need for this request, the caller put the phone down.

In another, the fraudster called pretending to be from a Government scheme offering funding to people who were being asked to self-isolate at home in help contain the virus.

He asked the woman for personal details, such as date of birth, and said there was a payment of £380 awaiting and needed bank details to deposit the cash. 

With her suspicions aroused, she asked the caller to send a cheque instead. He then put the woman on hold while he “asked his manager” and returned to say that checks had shown she owed £820 in unpaid income tax.

He added that this would have to be settled there and then before a cheque for the new amount could be issued. The line went dead when the woman refused to do this.

 “Thankfully, these attempts by cold callers to exploit people failed,” said Helen Speight, Head of Development at The Thornbury Centre, which was first alerted to the scams. 

“The worry is that others in Bradford may fall victim so we are urging everyone to be on their guard.

“The message is simple – be vigilant, and please look out for friends, family and neighbours who might be targeted.

“This situation is difficult enough for many of us, but shameless scammers are still looking for opportunities to exploit our community, particularly vulnerable residents.”

“On each occasion, the callers are friendly and persuasive, and ask for bank information in a plausible manner. But it’s important to remember that no genuine caller will ever ask for these details."

In response to reports of attempted scams like these, the NHS Test and Trace service has advised people who may be concerned whether a call, text or email that they receive is genuine to visit its web page. This lists the official phone number 0300 013 5000 and other contact details.

It has also reassured the public that contact tracers will never ask for any financial information, such as credit card or bank details.

They will also not ask anyone to set up a password or PIN over the phone, nor call a premium rate telephone number, such as those that begin in 09 or 087.

If people don’t wish to talk over the phone, they can also ask for an email or text inviting them to log in to a secure web-based service instead.

People who have concerns, or feel they have fallen victim to scams related to COVID-19, should contact Action Fraud – the national Fraud and Cyber Crime reporting centre -  through its website, or by phoning 0300 123 2040.