RESIDENTS have been warned to be on their guard after scammers posing as workers from the NHS Test and Trace service made calls asking for payment for coronavirus tests.

Those being called are told that they have been in contact with someone who has tested positive for Covid-19 and are then told they must purchase a test over the phone.

The genuine advice is that if you've been in close contact with someone who has coronavirus and need to self-isolate, you may get an email, text or phone call from NHS Test and Trace, however no one would be advised to get tested unless they had symptoms, and if they do, they would never be asked to purchase a test or give their bank details.

Essex Trading Standards are aware of social media reports about the scam and boss Chris French said: “Absolutely no-one officially contacted by the NHS test and trace team would be asked for payment over the phone or to pay for a test.

“We would ask residents to be vigilant if they receive a call such as this, not to give any personal information and report it to us straight away. Please also make sure older or vulnerable family and friends are aware of this scam so they don’t fall prey to it.”

Director of Public Health, Dr Mike Gogarty said: “ The NHS Test and Trace service is a vital element in helping us stop the spread of coronavirus. I am disgusted that scammers are using this crucial service as a way to scam people, potentially putting people’s health at risk.

“People should not be discouraged from giving their contact details as part of test and trace, however I would ask that they remain vigilant when receiving calls, check the telephone number and not give any information such as bank details if asked.”