COVID-19: EU online scams prevention

April 2020

The European Commission intensifies work on all fronts to prevent scams and protect consumers online

Since the start of the Coronavirus outbreak, the European Commission has been committed to protecting consumers online. In this context, the Commission has recently started coordinating a screening (‘sweep’) of online platforms and advertisements to check that consumers in the EU are not being subjected to content promoting false claims or scam products. These checks will be carried out by the Consumer Protection Cooperation Network (CPCNetwork) of national authorities.

Didier Reynders, Commissioner for Justice, said: “The Commission is working tirelessly on all fronts to protect European citizens from this deadly virus. This also includes protecting them from malicious operators who are using this pandemic to defraud unwitting consumers online or to unduly obtain high prices. This new sweep, specifically designed for the coronavirus context, should help us identify misleading content in breach of EU consumer rules and lead to their removal.” 

This week, the Commission has also continued information exchanges with the major online platforms (Allegro, Amazon, AliExpress, Microsoft/Bing, CDiscount, Ebay, Facebook, Google, Rakuten, Wish and Yahoo/Verizon media). Following last week’s additional call for action from Commissioner Reynders, all these platforms have replied with a strong commitment to the protection of consumers, and  have confirmed their continued efforts to proactively take down misleading ads, including for ‘miracle’ food supplements illegally advertised with claims related to coronavirus (responses  provided to the Commission are available online here.

This joint action has already showed good results. For instance,  Aliexpress removed over 250,000 suspicious listings alone in March, and eBay blocked or removed more than 15 million listings violating their coronavirus policies. In parallel, the Commission has also been in contact with several trade associations representing key e-commerce and online advertising organisations to guarantee coordinated and efficient actions.

All information on how the Commission is working to prevent consumer scams related to coronavirus can be found here.

More information on the sweep can be found here.


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