The phone calls supposedly alert people about having been in close proximity with potential carriers of COVID-19. In danger are particularly British people, TheRegister reported.
Why British People Should Be Aware with 0300 013 5000 Calls
The most dangerous thing about this fake phone call scheme is the ease with which anyone can pose as a government contact tracer. Detailed information about contact tracers has been provided by the NHS.
In short, the NHS test and trace service ensures that anyone who develops symptoms of coronavirus (COVID-19) can quickly be tested to find out if they have the virus. Contact tracers would call and text people who report coronavirus symptoms to the government. Usually, the callers acquire lots of personally identifiable information, and in some cases information about others, too.
The issue is that the calls from the so-called contact tracers are not safeguarded, and considering the nature of the calls and the amount of demanded PII, they should be. People working for the test and trace service call from a published phone number, 0300 013 5000, but making the phone public doesn’t guarantee the nature of the caller. There’s only the promise given by UK.gov that its employees will not disclose any personal or medical information to the individuals’ contacts.
Such cold-calling scams have already been registered. It is not difficult at all to spoof SMS and caller line identification information. With sharing the phone number, UK.gov actually made it a lot easier for scammers to carry out fraudster calls.
What can people do to safeguard themselves?
According to RSA security researcher Ben Tuckwell, “consumers can protect themselves by acting smart and pausing to consider each communication they receive, while remembering the three key smishing don’ts – don’t respond to texts from unknown or unusual numbers; don’t click on any links in text messages; and don’t share any banking information, usernames or passwords or other personal details after receiving a text message, unless you can verify who you are speaking with.”
You can also read our detailed article describing what vishing, smishing and phishing scams are, to learn how to recognize such attempts.