NICOLA Sturgeon has warned people about “despicable” scammers who are pretending to be Test and Protect officials in order to get people to hand over money.

The First Minister has stressed that no genuine Test and Protect officials will ever ask people for bank details and has made the issue public to “nip this in the bud”.

She said: “We have become aware that some fake callers are pretending to work for Test and Protect and are trying to con people by claiming that payment is needed for a test.

“Sadly, this reminds us that there are always a small number of people, it’s a tiny minority, but nevertheless they’re there, who will try to exploit any situation they can to defraud people.

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“It is truly and utterly despicable – particularly in this time of crisis that we are living through.”

She added: “Covid tests are free and will always be free for those who need them. Nobody from Test and Protect will ever ask you for financial information, they will never ask you for your bank or credit card details and they will never try to sell you anything.

“The only thing Test and Protect staff will ask you about is where you’ve been and details of the people you have been in contact with.

“Genuine contact tracers will often also fist send you a text to let you know that you will shortly receive a call from NHS Scotland. They will know your name and they will ask you for details of people you’ve come into contact with in a relevant time period.

“They will always call you from the same number – 0800 0308 012.”

Citizens Advice Scotland (CAS) has also called for people to be wary about potential scams during the pandemic.

CAS financial health spokesperson, Myles Fitt, said: “Since the start of the pandemic, Citizens Advice bureaux across Scotland have continued to give advice on scams and dealing with their effects.

“These scams are usually about extracting money, often from the most vulnerable, and we echo the First Minister’s comments - the Test and Protect service will only ask about people’s movements and contact with others, nothing else."

Andrew Bartlett, chief executive of Advice Direct Scotland, added: “These sickening scams are deeply worrying.

“It is disgusting that criminals are seeking to exploit a health pandemic to take advantage of vulnerable people.

“Consumers should never provide their bank details to a cold-caller and should hang up if someone claiming to be from Test and Protect asks for money as they will never do this.

“We urge everyone in Scotland to be cautious. Anyone with concerns about a potential scam, or who believes they may have fallen for a scam, can contact our advisers who will be able to help.”