Helping you avoid COVID‑19 online scams

We want to keep you safe whenever you’re online. That’s why everything we make is protected with powerful built-in security technologies that help detect and block threats before they ever reach you.

Recently, there’s been a significant rise in online scams related to COVID‑19. We're providing these tips to help you spot and avoid these scams, so you can stay safer online.

Common types of scams

Falsely representing health organisations

Scammers posing as the NHS, WHO or CDC may offer cures, tests or other COVID‑19 information.

Websites selling fraudulent products

Sites might offer hand sanitizer, self-testing kits, face masks, or other in-demand products that never arrive.

Posing as government sources

Some scams claim to issue updates and payments on behalf of HMRC and Gov.uk.

Fraudulent financial offers

Scammers may pose as banks, investors or debt collectors, with offers designed to steal financial information.

Fake charitable donation requests

Requests for COVID‑19 donations to charities, hospitals and the NHS should be checked carefully.

How to avoid common scams

Know how scammers may reach you

Scammers are taking advantage of the increase in COVID‑19 communications by disguising their scams as legitimate messages about the virus. Alongside emails, scammers may also use text messages, automated calls and malicious websites to reach you.
Dear sir/madam, This is a message from the UK government. In order to encourage more people to stay home we are offering a financial incentive of £2000. To claim your incentive, please fill out your personal information here and verify your bank details at www.claim-it-here.ukg0v . If you would like to support the National Coronavirus Relief Fund, you can also make a donation here . Regards, The UK Government GovUKxba5@email.com Urgent message about COVID-19! G 2-Step Verification N o , i t s not me Y es Is i t y o u t r yi n g t o si gn i n ?

Visit authoritative websites directly

Scammers often pose as well-known, trusted and authoritative sources. Directly visit sources like Gov.uk, NHS.uk or WHO.int to get the latest factual information about COVID‑19.

Dear sir/madam, This is a message from the UK government. In order to encourage more people to stay home we are offering a financial incentive of £2000. To claim your incentive, please fill out your personal information here and verify your bank details at www.claim-it-here.ukg0v . If you would like to support the National Coronavirus Relief Fund, you can also make a donation here . Regards, The UK Government GovUKxba5@email.com Urgent message about COVID-19! G 2-Step Verification N o , i t s not me Y es Is i t y o u t r yi n g t o si gn i n ?

Be cautious of requests for personal or financial information

If you receive an unsolicited request for information, take extra time to evaluate the message. Scammers will often ask you to input login information, or share bank details and addresses with them. They may also request payment via bank transfer or virtual currency.
Dear sir/madam, This is a message from the UK government. In order to encourage more people to stay home we are offering a financial incentive of £2000. To claim your incentive, please fill out your personal information here and verify your bank details at www.claim-it-here.ukg0v . If you would like to support the National Coronavirus Relief Fund, you can also make a donation here . Regards, The UK Government GovUKxba5@email.com Urgent message about COVID-19! G 2-Step Verification N o , i t s not me Y es Is i t y o u t r yi n g t o si gn i n ?

Donate directly through charities

Some scams take advantage of goodwill, requesting donations for COVID‑19 relief efforts. Do some research to make sure the charity is legitimate ─ like checking if they are registered with the Charity Commission.

Scammers also pose as legitimate charities. To be more confident your money will reach a charity, you can donate directly through their website ─ rather than clicking a link sent to you.

Dear sir/madam, This is a message from the UK government. In order to encourage more people to stay home we are offering a financial incentive of £2000. To claim your incentive, please fill out your personal information here and verify your bank details at www.claim-it-here.ukg0v . If you would like to support the National Coronavirus Relief Fund, you can also make a donation here . Regards, The UK Government GovUKxba5@email.com Urgent message about COVID-19! G 2-Step Verification N o , i t s not me Y es Is i t y o u t r yi n g t o si gn i n ?

Double check links and email addresses before clicking

Fake links often imitate established websites by adding extra words or letters. If it says something like "click here," hover over the link or long press the text to check the URL for mistakes ─ being careful not to click it. Misspelled words or random letters and numbers in the URL or email address may also indicate a scam.
Dear sir/madam, This is a message from the UK government. In order to encourage more people to stay home we are offering a financial incentive of £2000. To claim your incentive, please fill out your personal information here and verify your bank details at www.claim-it-here.ukg0v . If you would like to support the National Coronavirus Relief Fund, you can also make a donation here . Regards, The UK Government GovUKxba5@email.com Urgent message about COVID-19! G 2-Step Verification N o , i t s not me Y es Is i t y o u t r yi n g t o si gn i n ?

Search to see if it’s been reported

If somebody has sent you a fraudulent message, it’s likely they’ve sent it to other people as well. Copy and paste the email address, phone number, or most suspicious portion of the message into a search engine to check if it’s been reported by others.
Dear sir/madam, This is a message from the UK government. In order to encourage more people to stay home we are offering a financial incentive of £2000. To claim your incentive, please fill out your personal information here and verify your bank details at www.claim-it-here.ukg0v . If you would like to support the National Coronavirus Relief Fund, you can also make a donation here . Regards, The UK Government GovUKxba5@email.com Urgent message about COVID-19! G 2-Step Verification N o , i t s not me Y es Is i t y o u t r yi n g t o si gn i n ?

Add an extra layer of security to your account

For extra protection online, add two-factor authentication — also known as 2-step verification — to your accounts. This provides another layer of security by requiring two steps to gain access to your account: for example, something you know (your password) and something you physically have on hand (like your phone or a security key).

Dear sir/madam, This is a message from the UK government. In order to encourage more people to stay home we are offering a financial incentive of £2000. To claim your incentive, please fill out your personal information here and verify your bank details at www.claim-it-here.ukg0v . If you would like to support the National Coronavirus Relief Fund, you can also make a donation here . Regards, The UK Government GovUKxba5@email.com Urgent message about COVID-19! G 2-Step Verification N o , i t s not me Y es Is i t y o u t r yi n g t o si gn i n ?
Dear sir/madam, This is a message from the UK government. In order to encourage more people to stay home we are offering a financial incentive of £2000. To claim your incentive, please fill out your personal information here and verify your bank details at www.claim-it-here.ukg0v . If you would like to support the National Coronavirus Relief Fund, you can also make a donation here . Regards, The UK Government GovUKxba5@email.com Urgent message about COVID-19! G 2-Step Verification N o , i t s not me Y es Is i t y o u t r yi n g t o si gn i n ?

Report it to Action Fraud

If you see something suspicious, or think you've been scammed, report it at ActionFraud.police.UK or by calling 0300 123 2040.

Help others avoid COVID‑19 online scams

Share these tips with family and friends and download a one-page summary below.

Download tip sheet