Members of the public involved with the NHS Track and Trace scheme should not fall victim to bogus calls, the Health Department has said.
Dr Jenny Harries, deputy chief medical officer for England, said “it will be very obvious”, after a member of the public asked how they can be sure a phone call is legitimate, during the Downing Street briefing on Sunday.
The NHS Track and Trace scheme, designed to limit the spread of coronavirus transmission by ordering contacts of those who become infected to isolate, needs to be taken seriously by the public to work, officials have said.
The Department for Health has said NHS Test and Trace employees will never ask for financial details, PINs or banking passwords over the phone, and tracers will not be making any home visits.
A spokesman for the department said: “NHS Test and Trace is vitally important to prevent the further spread of Covid-19.
“We have been working with the police, the National Cyber Security Centre and the National Crime Agency to ensure that the public are aware of any potential fraudulent activity.”
Contact tracers will also only call from the telephone number 0300 013 5000, and send text messages from “NHS”.
They may also ask people to sign into the NHS contact-tracing website, request a full name and date of birth to confirm a person’s identity, and ask for a postcode to offer support while self-isolating.
Contact tracers may also ask those with symptoms to provide the name, telephone number and email address of people they have had close contact with in the previous two days.
The Health Department said tracers will not ask people to dial a premium rate number, make any form of payment or purchase, or ask for the social media identities or log-in details of a person or their contacts.
Personal and medical information will not be requested, or any information on treatment of coronavirus symptoms.
The Department for Health has also said members of the public will not be asked to download software, to hand over control of a computer to anyone else, or access any website not belonging to the Government or NHS.
Dr Jenny Harries said at the briefing: “It’s highly unlikely, with all the confidentiality around the data systems, that you will be contacted inappropriately by anyone.
“I recognise that many of us will be very cautious, and quite rightly so, about interactions from external organisations, but individuals will make it very clear to you that they are following for a particular reason.
“I think it will be very obvious in the conversation you have with them that they are genuine in that regard.
“There has been a lot of input paid to this particular issue.
“Obviously we want people to follow this, it’s for all of our benefits.
“I think it will be very evident when somebody rings you, these are professionally trained individuals and sitting over them are a group of senior clinical professionals.”