I am a victim of fraud - what can I do now?
Have fraudsters used your personal data for online shopping? Have you been the victim of identity theft - but everyone thinks you made a purchase and didn't pay? If this has happened to you, you should take action immediately!
If identity theft has actually occurred or is at least suspected, it is important to act quickly. The quicker the data misuse is reported to the relevant institutions, the greater the likelihood of catching the "data thief" and minimising the damage.
The following indicators point to identity theft:
- Inexplicable amounts are debited from your bank account.
- Companies or credit institutions make unknown payment claims.
- Personal passwords are no longer accepted for a user account; the user account may have been blocked.
If you are a victim of identity theft and have received mail from us as a result, please contact us directly! This is the only way we can clarify the matter and avoid any further inconvenience!
It is best to send us a message via our online contact form. Select the item "a debtor as a result of identity theft" and the case will be forwarded to the right contact person.
The top priority in the event of identity theft: act immediately!
1. Are debt collection proceedings already underway? Then contact the collection agency directly!
Have you received a debt collection letter from us or another debt collection agency and not ordered anything from the company mentioned in the letter? Please do not ignore the letter! Contact us as soon as possible! This is the only way we can clear up the fraud and perhaps even find out who ordered and received the goods.
If you have already received a payment order, you can lodge an objection within two weeks of receiving the payment order.
2. Press charges and get help
Report the fraudsters to the police for data misuse. We can send you a pre-filled report form with information about the case currently being handled by us, which you can send to the police. If the "data thief" is not known to you by name, you can file a criminal complaint against "persons unknown". The police will then do their utmost to identify the actual perpetrator. Ask for a copy of the criminal complaint. You will need this as proof for other creditors, the social media portal, the bank or other organisations concerned.
Consumer advice centres can also provide support for a small fee. You can find the address of the consumer organisation responsible for your federal state on the Internet.
If the situation threatens to become too complex or the damage, too great, it is advisable to have a good lawyer at your side - at the latest when it comes to the question of who will pay for the damage incurred. Legal assistance is also advisable in the event of criminal or civil proceedings.
3. Protect yourself from renewed data misuse
Lock your user accounts and change your passwords.
If your access data has been misused, block all your accounts as quickly as possible by phone or online. You can find the hotline numbers on the respective homepage - many are staffed around the clock for these emergencies.
Create new passwords for all logins. Use longer, "strong" passwords with numbers and special characters. Combinations that are not found in dictionaries are best. For example, think of a sentence and only use the first letter of each word. Use different passwords and use two-factor authentication or a password manager for double security.
Think about where the criminals could have obtained your personal data. Do not click on links whose senders you do not recognise or which seem strange to you.
4. Inform your environment
Tell everyone from whom you expect to receive money, and set up secure transaction channels, for example for Internet merchants, auction platforms or similar.
Inform your bank and credit agencies, such as SCHUFA Holding AG, about the misuse of your personal data as soon as possible. Credit agencies assess the creditworthiness of consumers and have special departments that deal with cases of fraud. They have the option of transmitting fraud alerts for affected accounts to their contractual partners.
Tell your friends and family what has happened to you. Because if your e-mail access data has been stolen, someone may contact you under your name and ask for money under false pretences. Or the "data thieves" may try to send spam to all your contacts via your social network accounts.
Keep all extracts, transcripts and copies relating to the identity theft in a safe place. These are important to protect yourself from false accusations!
Nobody can protect themselves one hundred per cent from identity theft. However, the likelihood of becoming a victim of data misuse can be significantly reduced by following a few simple but effective protective measures.
- Personal data that are not passed on to third parties cannot be misused. Data economy is the keyword here. Only disclose the personal data that are absolutely necessary!
- Pay close attention to the question who you entrust with your data. Take a look at the legal notice, the information on data protection - keyword: GDPR - and the reviews of other consumers. Check whether the personal data requested are even necessary for further use of the service or whether a disproportionate number of queries are being made.
- Example online shop: If the date of birth is not mandatory when ordering in an online shop, do not enter it.
- Fake e-mail, for example: Beware of dubious e-mails and phone calls - no reputable company will ask for confidential personal data such as passwords, addresses or dates of birth in this way.
As far as the disclosure of personal information is concerned, the motto is:
as much as necessary, as little as possible!
Strong and secure passwords!
Control and overview of financial data!
Check your bank statements and credit card statements at least once a month. This way, you will quickly notice any unauthorised debits and can react in good time.
Keep devices and operating systems up to date!
System updates are regularly made available for computers and mobile devices - always install these promptly. This ensures that system-related security gaps are closed as quickly as possible. By keeping your operating system, Internet browser and antivirus software up to date, you can easily and reliably protect yourself against attacks via the Internet. The updates close security gaps and keep viruses, spam and dubious websites away from your device and home network.
Carefully destroy documents containing personal information!
If you want to destroy documents containing personal information, such as names, addresses or even account numbers, you should always proceed with care. These documents include addressed envelopes/ packages/ advertising brochures/ catalogues, but also in particular expired ID documents, bank or insurance cards. Simple disposal with waste paper or even residual waste is not safe enough - it's best to shred it!
Beware of unauthorised WLAN connections and devices!
Many facilities and shops provide free public WLAN networks. However, WLAN connections that do not require a password lead to unencrypted data traffic for their users, which in turn can easily be intercepted by criminals. In such cases, it is advisable to use encrypted connections on your own end device. It is generally advisable never to access websites for online or credit card banking on other people's devices or in public WLAN networks.
Secure your personal documents!
It is best to store important financial documents and personal papers in lockable cupboards or drawers. For very important documents, it is advisable to rent a safe deposit box or at least store them in a safe at home.
More and more online services are relying on the advantages of two-way authentication. A confirmation code is transmitted - usually by text message or e-mail to the smartphone. This code must be entered in addition to the password when logging in or carrying out a transaction. Two-way authentication offers an optimum level of security for online transactions.
Overview of personal data!
You can use search engines to find out whether and what data are being circulated about you online. You can also ask companies directly what data they have stored about you. This is known as self-disclosure. If the information stored is incorrect or out of date, you have the right to request the deletion or correction of the data.
Check apps and services!
Before you download an app, you should take a close look at which functions and personal data this app wants to access. Be particularly careful when using free apps, as they are often financed not only through advertising, but also by collecting and selling personal data. If in doubt, use an alternative app or find out online about its reliability to be on the safe side.