COVID-19: Online scams and unfair commercial practices

As the new Coronavirus spreads across the European Union, rogue traders advertise and sell products such as protective masks, caps and hand sanitizers that allegedly prevent infection. On 20 March 2020, the consumer protection (CPC) authorities of the EU Member States, with the support of the European Commission, issued the CPC Common Position COVID19 on the most reported scams and unfair practices around at present. On 23 March 2020, Commissioner For Justice and Consumers Didier Reynders wrote to a number of platforms, social media, search engines and market places to request their cooperation in taking down scams from their platforms.

Advice to consumers on scams and unfair commercial practices

“Consumers should be cautious if traders:

  • Use language or images in their marketing which explicitly or implicitly suggest that a product is able to prevent or cure COVID-19 infection.
  • Make reference to self-declared doctors, health professionals, experts or other unofficial sources stating that a product is able to prevent or cure an infection with the new virus.
  • Refer by name or logo to government authorities, official experts or international institutions which have allegedly endorsed the protective or curative claims without providing hyperlinks or references to official documents.
  • Use scarcity claims such as “only available today”, “sell out fast” or similar.
  • Inform about market conditions such as “lowest price on the market”, “only product that can cure COVID-19 infections” or similar.
  • Use prices that are well above the normal price for similar products due to the fact that they would allegedly prevent or cure COVID-19 infection.

Consumers are reminded that national governments in the EU provide official advice based on scientific evidence on how to prevent COVID-19 infection. Where consumers come across unsupported or misleading claims on online platforms, they should use the reporting tools provided by the platform operator for signalling inappropriate content.”

Read more about how to identify a scam here.

Read the CCPC’s advice below: