ICO statement on investigating coronavirus scams

We are supporting businesses eager to stay in touch with customers during the Covid-19 pandemic. The ICO can help businesses use people’s personal data responsibly when trying to reach new and

existing customers. We provide tools and clear guidance to ensure companies can reach out to their customers in a way that maintains customer trust and meets data protection standards.

But we’re also aware of a growing number of organisations using the public health emergency opportunistically to set up scams and contact vulnerable people using nuisance calls, unsolicited emails, and spam texts.

In recent weeks we’ve seen an increase in complaints about nuisance marketing clearly aimed at preying on people’s fears and we are prioritising such cases. We stand ready to investigate any business taking advantage of the current pandemic.

The ICO has the ability to issue penalties under electronic marketing rules to individual company directors as well as their companies, with fines of up to £500,000.

Where we find evidence of fraud we are working closely with Action Fraud, Trading Standards, law enforcement and other relevant agencies, to continue to protect people, raise awareness and stop criminals during this challenging period.