'Bogus' NHS text message was sent by health service

An NHS scare about a "bogus" message scam targeting patients was accidentally sparked by a genuine inquiry from the health service, a spokeswoman has said.

Thursday, 13th April 2017, 7:46 am
Updated Tuesday, 9th May 2017, 6:24 pm
A spokeswoman has since said that the text message was genuine.

NHS England warned members of the public in Cumbria and the North East on Tuesday about a text which requested personal information such as when they were born and their email address.

But after raising the alarm, it was discovered the message had been sent by an NHS organisation, not fraudsters, the service said.

The clarification came despite the initial alert claiming the "NHS does not collect information in this way".

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

A spokeswoman for NHS England Cumbria and North East said on Wednesday: "We've since been made aware that the text message sent was genuine, however wording has since been changed to reassure patients that it is a genuine request for information from a named NHS organisation.

"We encourage patients and the public to be vigilant about 'unidentifiable' requests for personal information, but at the same time not to be worried about digital health services."

Patients had been asked to reply to a series of texts, which first requested information about their age and, when answered, their email address.

One read: "Hi, this is a message from the NHS to confirm your identity please reply with Y followed by your year of birth."

The subsequent NHS England statement, sent to local papers, said: "NHS England have been made aware of a bogus text message claiming to be from the NHS asking people to confirm both their year of birth and email address."

It added: "The NHS does not collect information in this way, therefore we are advising patients and the public not to respond should they receive anything."