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Fraud: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport

UIN HL3998, tabled on 5 May 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government whether they have broadcast advertisements to warn the public, in particular those who are vulnerable, of scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic; if not, why not; and what plans they have to provide advice about how to avoid becoming a victim of such scams.

Answered on

3 June 2020

The government has not broadcast advertisements to specifically raise awareness of scams related to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, there are a number of initiatives and public information campaigns aimed at tackling scams and disinformation connected with the pandemic.

The Rapid Response Unit, operating from within the Cabinet Office and No10, is tackling a range of harmful narratives online - from purported ‘experts’ issuing dangerous misinformation to criminal fraudsters running phishing scams. Up to 70 incidents a week, often false narratives containing multiple misleading claims, are being identified and resolved. The successful ‘Don’t Feed the Beast’ public information campaign has also relaunched, to empower people to question what they read online.

HMG believes the best way to ensure the public’s safety is to make sure that they know how to protect themselves – which is why we have been communicating both through our own channels, and using partner organisations like Trading Standards, the Financial Conduct Authority and working with all the major banks, so that the public know how to spot a scam and protect themselves from them. We have recently launched a GOV.UK page on coronavirus related fraud and cybercrime including easy-to-follow steps for people to better protect themselves as well as signposting all relevant advice and tips. This page can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/coronavirus-covid-19-fraud-and-cyber-crime.

In order to avoid falling victim to misinformation, we encourage the public to continue to check GOV.UK, where up to date guidance can be found, as well as watch the daily briefings on the government's response to COVID-19, which are broadcast live.