If identity theft has actually occurred, or if there is at least a suspicion of it, it is important to act quickly. The sooner the data misuse is reported to the relevant institutions, the greater the probability of catching the "data thief" and keeping the damage as low as possible.
Rule number one in the event of (suspected) identity theft: Act immediately!
If you yourself could be affected, you should not hope for a mishap, but make an immediate effort to have the corresponding accounts and accesses blocked. Even with services that are not affected for the time being, but which offer an increased risk of data misuse, you should change the passwords immediately!
1. File a Criminal Complaint with the Police
If there is a risk that you have become a victim of data abuse, it is recommended in any case to file a criminal complaint with the police. If the "data thief" is not known by name, the criminal complaint will be filed against "unknown". The police will then do their utmost to identify the perpetrator.
Please obtain a copy of the criminal complaint filed. You should keep this well and, if necessary, forward a copy of it directly to the creditor, the social media portal, the bank or other affected third parties as proof of the identity theft. In this way, you make it possible and easier for those stakeholders to look into the situation.
2. Inform Credit Agencies about Data Abuse
Credit agencies have special departments that deal with fraud cases; you should inform them about the misuse of your data. This is because they have the possibility to send fraud alerts for affected accounts to their contractual partners.
As a consequence, banks and lenders must first obtain permission from you as the person concerned before your credit line can be extended. In order to have a fraud alert created, it is usually necessary to provide the credit agencies with a copy of your identity card as well as a copy of the criminal complaint filed with the police. Please do not hesitate to do this! The credit agencies help you in protecting yourself from further financial damage.
3. Contact Financial Institutions
Of course, you should also inform banks and lenders as soon as possible - preferably in person or by telephone - about the misuse of data. In order to be able to present proof later, it is advisable to submit the facts in writing afterwards and to immediately report unlawful transfers and debits as well. Document anything remotely suspicious to the best of your ability.
4. Seek Legal Advice
If the situation threatens to become too complex or the damage so high that you can hardly set things to rights on your own, a lawyer will help you. Do not hesitate to seek legal help if you are overwhelmed by the situation. At the latest when it comes to the question of who will pay for the damage caused, legal assistance is appropriate. If criminal or civil proceedings are instituted, your legal expert will stand up for your rights.
5. Collection Proceedings Already in Progress? Get in Touch!
If you are a victim of identity theft and have therefore received mail from us, please contact us directly. Only through your feedback can we clarify the matter for you and thus avoid further costs and inconvenience for you!
In Germany, identity theft is not included as a separate criminal offence in the Criminal Code (StGB). However, it can still be punishable under certain conditions. Relevant offences are often fraud (§ 263 StGB), computer fraud (§ 263a StGB), forgery of documents (§ 276 StGB), falsification of data relevant to evidence (§ 269 StGB) or spying and interception of data (§ 202a StGB).
In addition, companies can also be liable to prosecution if they lose personal data of their customers through a data leak or pass them on to third parties without permission in the event of a data breach. Unfortunately, however, the probability of catching a "data thief" is often low. So the only thing you can usually do is file a criminal complaint against "unknown", process all unauthorised claims, have any affected accounts blocked and inform all affected third parties about the identity theft.