Coronavirus (COVID-19) scams and overpricing

Coronavirus (COVID-19) scams and overpricing

What scams you need to be aware of, what to do if you think you or someone you know has been approached by a scammer, how to report price hiking and unauthorised products.

During the coronavirus outbreak, you need to be aware of:

  • scams
  • price hikes (overpricing)
  • unauthorised products, especially hand sanitiser

People knocking on your door

You or someone you know might have someone knock on the door and:

  • pretend they’re from the British Red Cross or another charity, and attempt to take money to do your shopping
  • offer screening tests for coronavirus
  • offer to do small jobs around the house

Protect yourself from scammers

You should:

  • always be careful about who you let into your home
  • ask someone you know and trust to help you with shopping, if you’re self-isolating

If you think you’ve been approached with a scam on your doorstep, contact the police on:

  • 999 if you’re in immediate danger
  • 101 for non-emergencies 

Scam or phishing emails

Several coronavirus scam emails have been circulating.

Be careful about emails that claim to be:

  • from the government, offering a tax rebate and asking for your bank details
  • investment scheme and trading advice, encouraging you to capitalise on the coronavirus downturn
  • from the World Health Organisation (WHO), with crucial coronavirus safety advice
  • from a research group that mimics the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and WHO
  • from the council, offering a council tax refund
  • from the council, asking for bank details in order to get free school meal vouchers
  • able to offer a loan in return for a fee

Opening attachments or links in these emails could let scammers access your device and personal details or follow your movements online.  

Protect yourself from email scams

You should:

  • be careful about opening emails from people you don’t know
  • never give your bank details or send money to people you don’t know online

Find out more about scams and how to report them on GOV.UK.


Some businesses and retailers are charging inflated prices for certain products, such as hand sanitisers.

Overpricing doesn’t breach any trading standard regulations. But the Competition and Markets Authority wants to make sure traders don’t exploit the current situation to take advantage of people.

You can report inflated prices on the GOV.UK website.

It’s against the law to charge a higher price than what is advertised on the shelf or on the product itself.

Unauthorised products

Because of the national shortage of hand sanitisers, several unauthorised products are being sold at the moment. These might not be safe or effective.

You should:

  • only buy hand sanitiser from suppliers and brands you trust
  • always read the label

Contact Trading Standards

If you know of a business or retailer who is overcharging, or you're concerned about the safety of a hand sanitiser product, you can report it to Trading Standards: