Coronavirus related fraud and scams
Last updated 30 April 2020
Watch out for coronavirus related fraud. Coronavirus is creating a perfect environment for fraudsters and scammers, who see it as a perfect opportunity to profit or gain from the crisis.
If you've been scammed report what happened on the Action Fraud website, the UK’s national centre for reporting fraud and cybercrime.
Email and text phishing scams
Criminals are exploiting the coronavirus for their own gain. For example; bogus emails with links claiming to have important updates, fake tax refunds. If you have suspicions something is not right, delete the email or text immediately.
- watch out for suspicious emails or texts. Do not click on links or attachments from sources you do not know or are not expecting
- look out for poor spelling and grammar
- check the sender's email address to check if it's correct
- do not respond to messages asking you for your personal or financial details, or your logins and passwords
- install the latest software and app updates to protect your devices from the latest threats
- if it's too good to be true, it probably is
You can find more information about coronavirus related phishing scams and how to protect yourself on the Which website.
Cold calls and doorstep scams
Be wary of phone calls, and even visitors to your home.
There has been an increase in scam phone calls claiming to be from HMRC, banks or the police. There have also been reports of criminals taking advantage of older people by knocking on their doors and offering to take their temperature.
- be vigilant
- do not let people you do not know into your home
- do not respond to calls asking you for your personal or financial details, or your passwords
You can find more information about coronavirus related scams and how to protect yourself on the Which website.
During the coronavirus pandemic we're being encouraged to shop online, where possible, to avoid spreading the virus.
If you’re making a purchase from a company or person you do not know and trust, carry out some research first. Ask a friend or family member for advice before completing the purchase. If you decide to go ahead with the purchase, use a credit card if you have one. Most major credit card providers insure online purchases.
Visit our how to shop safely web pages for more advice and information.
Be on your guard against loan sharks who may try to exploit the coronavirus outbreak and prey on your financial worries.
Protect yourself and report loan sharks operating in your community:
- do not accept cash loans, even if the lender seems friendly or helpful. They may ask for unrealistic and unaffordable payments in return
- avoid loan sharks at all costs and consider other options if you need to borrow money. Credit unions offer ethical savings and loans to local communities
- to lend money lawfully, a business must be authorised by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). You can search the FCA register to check if the lender is legally authorised. If you've already borrowed money from someone who is not FCA authorised, you have not broken the law, they have
If you've been the victim of a loan shark, report it safely online on the Illegal Money Lending Team website or call 0300 555 2222.