FEARS are being raised online over potential scammers taking advantage of the new NHS Scotland Test and Protect scheme to con cash from vulnerable members of the public. 

The Scottish Government’s test, trace and isolate programme went live at the end of last month and has so far traced more than 700 people. 

Under the system, Scots will be expected to be tested for coronavirus if they show symptoms of the disease – and if they test positive they will be asked to supply details of anyone they could have passed it on to.

Those people will then be contacted by the team of tracers and asked to self-isolate for 14 days.

But rumours circulating online have suggested that callous fraudsters are taking advantage of the scheme, targeting vulnerable Scots – guising themselves as contact tracers.

They reportedly then ask for payment for the kit and results – this is despite the NHS Scotland scheme being completely free.

Yesterday, the Scottish Government released information with tips on how to know your caller is a genuine contact tracer.

What contact tracers will NEVER do:

  • Ask for bank account details
  • Request your medical records
  • Make you reveal your passwords or pins. 
  • Offer services, ask you to download anything or try to sell anything.

What contact tracers WILL do:

  • Introduce themselves, identify you by name and state the reason for their call.
  • Ask about your symptoms, where you work and for information on your movements.
  • Request the names, phone numbers and locations of people you have been physically close to.

The Scottish Government added: “Sharing this information with contact tracers will allow us to track the virus and isolate it to stop the spread.”

A reminder of the NHS Test and Protect scheme:

How will it work?

Anyone over the age of five who develops symptoms of coronavirus – a cough, fever, or a loss or change in sense of smell or taste – should book a test.

This can be done through the NHS Inform website or by calling 0800 028 2816.

They should then self-isolate for seven days, while others in the household should self-isolate for 14 days.

If you test positive, you will be asked to provide details of all recent close contacts to NHS contact tracers.

“Close contact” includes members of your household, people you have had face-to-face contact with within one metre, and people you have been in contact with at a distance of less than two metres for 15 minutes or more.

Those contacted will be asked to isolate for 14 days and to book a test if they develop symptoms.

If a contacted person does not have symptoms, other people in their household will not have to self-isolate.

What if I live in a rural area?

Testing can be booked at a drive through testing centre and there are several mobile testing units.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the Government is looking at ways to expand local testing to include testing done at home by a health professional or other trained person.

How will privacy be protected?

Sturgeon said that people’s privacy “will be respected at all times during this process”.

She said the information provided will be “held securely within the NHS and used only for the purposes of tracing your contacts”.

The Scottish Government will not have access to the information and all the work of identifying and tracing contacts will be done within the NHS.

Those contacted by tracers will not be told the name of the person who tested positive.

What about my work?

If you are at work when you are contacted you should immediately head home.

Employers have been instructed by the Scottish Government to support anyone who is asked to self-isolate through Test and Protect.

You may be asked to work at home but should not be asked by your employer to go into work.

How will it be enforced?

Asked about enforcing test and trace, Sturgeon said that while the situation will be “kept under review” she expects the public will comply with the programme as they have done so far with lockdown measures.

Interim chief medical officer Dr Gregor Smith said that contract tracing is not a new step in public health and that “by and large” the feeling has been that people are willing to take part and share details.

A Scottish Government public engagement exercise on test and trace found: “There was a suggestion for enforced centralised isolation for those who tested positive for the virus – but others again raised human rights concerns around this, as well as highlighting how this could put people off self-reporting.”