Coronavirus scams

There are scammers and criminals already looking for opportunities to scam people as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Door step scams

Current door step coronavirus scams include:

  • knocking on your door claiming to be from the health authority, offering to do a coronavirus test or take your temperature
  • offering to run your errands, collect prescriptions or do your shopping. They may knock on your door or put a card through the letterbox

You should:

  • refuse to let them in
  • refuse to give them any money or personal details
  • phone the police on 101
  • ask them to leave. If they do not leave, contact the police on 999

Online scams

Current online coronavirus scams include:

  • websites offering protective face masks, hand sanitiser, and tickets for events, which never arrive
  • dating services where the other person is a fake account and is using the service to get enough information to steal your identity or gain your trust to ask for money
  • loan scams where you're asked to pay an upfront fee for a loan
  • fraudsters creating a bogus charity and taking the proceeds from fundraising

Phishing emails and texts

Some tactics being used by fraudsters in phishing emails include:

  • pretending to be from a research group that mimics the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and World Health Organisation (WHO). They claim to provide the victim with a list of active infections in their area. But to access this information the victim needs to either click on a link which redirects them to a credential-stealing page, or make a donation of support in the form of a payment into a Bitcoin account
  • providing articles about the virus outbreak with a link to a fake company website where victims are encouraged to click to subscribe to a daily newsletter for further updates
  • sending investment scheme and trading advice encouraging people to take advantage of the coronavirus downturn
  • pretending to be from Her Majesty's Revenue and Customs (HMRC) offering a tax refund and directing victims to a fake website which harvests their personal and financial details. The emails often display the HMRC logo making it look reasonably genuine and convincing. There are reports of people receiving similar text messages
  • pretending to be from the council, about a Universal Credit claim

Tactics used in fraudulent text (SMS) messages include:

  • pretending to be from GOV.UK, issuing fines for leaving your house
  • offering parents free school meals for their children in return for their bank details

How to spot other scams

A scammer may try to approach you on your doorstep, by post, over the phone or online. They’ll often pretend to be someone they’re not, or make misleading offers of services or investments.

Always question unexpected requests for your personal or financial information. Never give anyone you don’t know cash up front or your bank card or PIN.

Door step scams

If you get a visitor to your door follow the national guidance on coronavirus, avoiding any contact and:

  • check who is at the door before you open it and keep a safe two metre distance
  • do not buy goods or sign up to services at your door. If they provide a service that interests you, ask them to leave information for you to take away and research their company online or speak to friends or neighbours for advice
  • ask to see ID for any visitors from a gas, water or electricity supplier to check they’re one of your providers
  • do not invite anyone into your house if you’re unsure about a cold caller
  • check with your neighbours if you’ve noticed or heard of incidents of cold callers in your street

Phone scams

If you get a phone call:

  • do not give any bank details over the phone
  • take their contact details and website address if they appear genuine but do not sign up to anything before doing research
  • end the call if you don’t trust the caller, simply end the call

Email scams

If you get an email:

  • check if it’s from one of your home service providers such as gas, broadband or insurance
  • research them online before you buy anything
  • speak to your friends, family or neighbours if you’re ever unsure about an email selling you a product or service that you’re interested in

What to do next

For more advice, email or phone the National Consumer Helpline on 0808 223 1133.