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Identity theft: What to do when criminals shop at your expense?

Identity theft: What to do when criminals shop at your expense?

Updated on 03/10/2022 at 14:57

  • Fake offers, phishing emails or bogus purchases: The consumer care center warns of Internet scams in which your personal data is misused.
  • In so-called identity theft, criminals use your name and address to kidnap you and make expensive purchases online.
  • We’ll show you what to watch out for so you don’t fall into the trap of identity theft.

More consumer topics can be found here

Identity theft sounds complicated, but unfortunately it isn’t. A real name with associated postal address is often enough for fraudsters to make a virtual raid, warns the Lower Saxony Consumer Advice Center.

Criminals obtain the data through phishing emails or online scams with bogus offers, in which someone inadvertently accesses and reveals your data, consumer advocates explain. But not only those who want to buy something should be afraid of such a trap.

Criminals request personal data and then carry out a raid

Also people who sell things on the internet on platforms like eBay classified ads or the Facebook Marketplace, they can become victims of identity theft. If a potential buyer asks for your full name, mailing address, email address, and phone number before a transaction has taken place, it’s important to be careful.

Ask what your data is used for and decide very carefully if your data is really necessary for the purchase or sale or if it is better not to reveal it to a stranger.

After that, the scam works like this: the stranger’s name and stolen address are misused to sign up for an online store. The perpetrators then order on account, and the stolen address only serves as a billing address. Of course, the scammers send the products to a different address.

Only the perpetrators receive the warnings.

Order confirmations and non-payment reminders are sent via email to an address set up by the criminals. The victim only learns of the fraud when collection letters or claim notices are mailed to her address, the billing address.

However, it is also possible for criminals to purchase entire data sets with stolen account information from online stores or capture them themselves with successful hacker attacks on online stores or marketplaces. Because they then have usernames and passwords for existing accounts, merchandise fraud is even easier.

The best way to protect against this scenario is to enable two-factor authentication (2FA) for your accounts whenever possible, advises the Consumer Advice Center.

Identity theft – be sure to report it to the police

Victims of fraud should always report it to the police. This not only works on the site, but also with state police online guards. Then it is necessary to inform both debt collection companies and online stores in writing and send the notification as well.

In addition, you must oppose the debt collection order in time and find out from credit agencies such as Schufa or Crif what entries there are in connection with identity misuse or report data theft there.
© dpa

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