How to avoid Covid-19 scams
Some fraudsters are trying to exploit the Covid-19 outbreak as an opportunity for financial crime by
posing as trusted organisations like banks and even the World Health Organisation.
They may pretend to offer a safe haven for your money or medical guidance. They'll then try to trick you
into making a payment into a 'safe' account, giving personal or financial information.
Typically, they’ll get in touch through:
- phone calls
- social media posts
Remember, M&S Bank will never ask you for any PINs or passwords or to move money to a 'safe' account.
How to report it
If you think you've been the victim of a coronavirus scam, report it to us as soon as possible on 0345 900 0900.
You can also visit the Take Five website
(link opens in a new window) for more help on protecting yourself
We also have our scams leaflet which tells you more about how to stay safe
New Covid-19 scams to watch out for
Be aware of the scams below, and regularly check for more warnings on our social media channels: Facebook (link opens in a new
window) and (link
opens in a new window)Twitter.
Fraudsters are taking advantage of people expecting to be contacted by the NHS about their Covid-19 vaccine. The NHS will never call or text to confirm you want the vaccine or ask for bank details.
Safe account scam
Fraudsters are exploiting Covid-19 by offering the
chance to move your money to a fake safe account. We'll never ask you to do this. If you're
suspicious, hang up or don't reply to the message.
Fraudsters are using Covid-19 to offer fake goods,
such as face masks and hand gel. If a deal looks too good to be true, it probably is. Use
secure payment methods and only buy from sites you trust.
Fake testing kits
Beware of fraudsters pretending to be medical
professionals, promising Covid-19 testing kits for a fee. Don't be rushed into a
decision. Only criminals will try to rush and panic you.
Other examples of fraud to watch out for:
Covid-19 vaccine scams
Throughout the pandemic, fraudsters have been trying to exploit coronavirus as an opportunity for financial crime.
Now that vaccines are available, they’re sending bogus messages claiming to be from the NHS and offering the chance to apply for a Covid-19 vaccine.
These are usually text messages or emails asking you to confirm your personal and financial details through a website given in a link. The same scam is also being used with automated phone calls asking you to press a button on your keypad to provide your details.
Just a reminder that the Covid-19 vaccine is only available through the NHS and is free to all.
Remember, the NHS will never:
- send a text asking you to confirm you want the vaccine
- ask for your bank account details, PINS or passwords
- arrive unannounced at your home to give you the vaccine
We're seeing criminals pretending to be from HMRC and offering a goodwill payment from the Covid-19
fund. Again, HMRC won't email, text or call about tax rebates or penalties so it could be a scam.
out for bad spelling, odd addresses and generic greetings.
If you receive a message that looks like it's from HMRC, go to the HMRC website on your browser to
Government impersonation scams
On 24 March, the UK Government sent a text to the public asking people to stay at home. This was
legitimate. However, fraudsters are also impersonating the Government, sending texts to people
they're being fined for leaving their home more than once a day.
Some parents have received fake emails telling them their child is entitled to free school meals.
Parents are then asked to send their bank details so they can get financial help during school
holidays. Please remember, schools will never ask for your bank details via email.
Customers are reporting that they're receiving scam emails about insurance. Phishing is an attempt by
fraudsters to 'fish' for personal information such as the security details you use for banking. They
send an email to as many email addresses that they can, claiming to come from a legitimate
such as a bank, online payment service, retailer or similar.
We've seen confirmed authorised push payment (APP) scams with payment references mentioning
or Covid-19. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that the fake caller used the virus as a
conversation starter. They may have used these words in the payment reference to make it look more
genuine to us.
Unfortunately, there have been cases of fraudsters targeting those who are more vulnerable, offering
do their shopping or other odd jobs. This may seem like a genuine act of kindness, but fraudsters
taking money or cards and never returning. If you can, please only accept help from friends,
or those you know and trust. It may also be a good idea to talk to any elderly or vulnerable family
friends to make sure they're aware of the risks too.
Be aware of scammers capitalising on current stock market volatility. They may unexpectedly contact
you through emails and phone calls with:
- an attractive investment offer on new shares
- a report on investments you already have
- a share dealing discount
These tactics are also called 'boiler room' scams, as criminals will often pressure you into
We also have our own own scams
tells you more about how to stay safe online.