RESIDENTS are being urged to keep their wits about them over a new coronavirus vaccine scam which is targeting vulnerable people.

Residents in their 90s have received phone calls to say they will be having their Covid-19 vaccinations at home and will receive a visit at a certain time and date.

They are then asked to provide personal details other than their name to make a payment, or press a number on their keypad.

Councils across the country have warned that the NHS does not charge for the vaccine and any calls such as this should be treated as a scam.

If you are registered with a GP, you will be called by a staff member or contacted directly from your GP.

The callers booking vaccinations will not ask for any other personal details other than asking you to confirm your name, and certainly will not ask for any money.

Cllr Maureen McLaughlin, cabinet member for housing, public health and wellbeing at Warrington Council, where reports of the scam have be reported by our sister title the Warrington Guardian, said: “Reports of scam phone calls targeting elderly residents waiting for a Covid-19 vaccine are extremely concerning.

“Those at risk and urgently waiting for a coronavirus vaccine are urged to remember they will not receive calls from the NHS asking them for money or to press a number on their keypad to make an appointment.

“Unfortunately, anyone who receives a call that asks them to press a key to be forwarded to make an appointment for a vaccine will likely instead receive a large charge on their phone bill.

“Please make your families, friends and neighbours aware and to be on their guard.”

Warnings have also been issued after people across the county reported recieving fake text messages that pretend to be from the NHS offering the Covid-19 vaccine - which could end up scamming people out of money.

Health trusts and the Government’s National Cyber Security Centre have issued a series of warnings about the text messages.

The texts purport to offer the vaccine, pretend to be from the NHS or your local doctor’s surgery, but are fake and the link takes users to a fraudulent website.

NHS trusts and GPs surgeries across the country have issued warnings about the scam, and issued advice on how to tell the difference between the scam texts and the genuine ones from GP practices that are beginning to offer the vaccines to the elderly.

Some of the text messages steal money from people by getting them to text back - with text charges that cost a fortune.

Others link to websites which ask for bank details and other personal information.

On Twitter, consumer expert Claer Barrett explained how the latest text scam that is doing the rounds this week, works.

“The link leads to this fake, yet convincing, website to fool you into entering card details. A big clue this is fake? - spelling errors. Plus, you don’t need to pay. The NHS is free at the point of use, and over-80s are the priority group for vaccines. If in doubt, call your GP,” she said.

“Scammers know we’re in a fragile mental state, and that these kinds of ‘urgent - you must act now’ messages will catch us off-guard.

“In all cases, breathe and take a step back. If it’s an unprompted link on a text, asking for lots of personal details and your credit card number, it’s almost certainly a scam. If you’re not sure, phone a friend,” she added.