How To Protect Yourself From Online Coronavirus Scams

With the coronavirus pandemic keeping us all home, we’re slowly learning how to live online. From remote working tools and Netflix to online retailers and Zoom dates, we’re pretty well equipped to handle it. Unfortunately, online scammers are trying to take advantage of this uncertain time, using several sneaky tactics to get their hands on people’s bank details. Action Fraud, the UK’s national reporting centre for fraud and cybercrime, has already received reports of losses of almost £1m from coronavirus scams. And the number of such scams is just continuing to rise. 

Under the guise of providing medical advice, offering investment opportunities or a safe place for you to shop and transfer your money, there’s a number of these online COVID-19 scams floating around. The good news? A few small steps can help you avoid them all entirely.

Take the following steps to stay vigilant and share these with any vulnerable family members or friends who may be targeted:  

Look out for online shopping scams 

With most of us turning to online shopping from home, it’s more important than ever to be cautious about where you’re shopping from and what payment methods you’re using. 

Shopping through a trusted online retailer?

  • Use a secure payment card so retailers can verify it’s really you
  • Be wary of any sites asking for bank transfers –  this makes it much harder to get refunds in case something does go wrong
  • Check the returns policy carefully to make sure you’re covered
  • Read through customer reviews of any new online retailers before making any purchases

Coronavirus scammers are also currently selling fake treatment kits, overpriced hand sanitisers and testing kits. If you need to buy any medical goods, opt only for official healthcare sites and known pharmacies at this time.  

Be extra careful of email attachments 

Did you get an email from the World Health Organisation asking you to download a file or asking for your personal information? Or a message from an unknown sender asking you to donate to free school meals or pay a fine for going outside? Don’t click on any links or download anything from such emails or texts. These could contain malware disguised as attachments that can affect your computer or steal your personal data. 

Remember, fraudsters are skilled in creating convincing emails that look as if they’re coming from legitimate organisations, but such organisations would never email you to ask for your personal details. Seek out official websites to get information from them from a reliable source.

Watch out for HMRC impersonators 

Fraudsters have been sending fake emails pretending to be the HMRC for years. But with recent events, take extra care to ensure that any communications that seem to be from the HMRC genuinely are. If you’ve been contacted by them about a coronavirus tax rebate and are unsure whether it’s genuine, reach out to them directly to clarify using the contact details on their website. 

If in doubt and need help with your taxes, the government has created an official HMRC helpline to help businesses and self-employed individuals concerned about paying their taxes at this time.

Always keep your money and your personal data protected by following the below: 

  • Be wary of unsolicited calls, texts or emails, especially if it involves someone asking for your personal details or bank details. 
  • Don’t click on links or download attachments from unknown senders, or even known senders if the communication is unexpected or unusual. 
  • If in doubt whether a communication has come from your bank or any official body, reach out to them directly using a trusted number. 

Remember, it’s better to question any unusual communications, even if they seem to be coming from a legitimate source.

If you think you’ve been affected, contact Action Fraud to submit a report directly or reach out to us on and we’ll look into it for you.

Spending online more frequently? Keep track of your payments by adding your cards to Curve, now equipped with 3D Secure 2 for safe, secure and hassle-free spending. With Curve, you’ll also receive instant notifications every time you spend, making it easy for you to stay on top of your finances.