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Identity theft is a growing threat in Germany

Hida Winkle is a tech blogger from Ohio with a degree in mass communication and a gift for writing. She is the editor-in-chief of Hida’s favorite subjects are technology and building art. She is also a huge fan of Anime and Manga.


March 27, 2024

By Dominik Hochwarth

Reading time: approx. 3 minutes

More than one in ten people have fallen victim to identity theft. The data often ends up in internet databases and is used for further illegal activities.

A growing danger: Hackers steal the identities of unsuspecting people and use them to carry out illegal actions.
Photo: PantherMedia / Sergiy Tryapitsyn

The Internet offers countless opportunities for communication, learning and entertainment, but it also poses risks, one of which is particularly troubling: identity theft. Personal information is stolen from unsuspecting internet users every day, often without their knowledge until the damage has already been done. In Germany, this phenomenon is reaching alarming proportions: more than one in ten adults have already become victims of this digital crime. This emerges from a representative survey by the opinion research institute YouGov on behalf of the Safe Trade Initiative (ISH).

How does identity theft work?

Online identity theft is a complex and multifaceted form of fraud that aims to obtain a person’s personal information without their consent and misuse it for illegal purposes. Fraudsters use a variety of methods to obtain valuable information, from phishing emails and fake websites to sophisticated hacker attacks. Once the personal data has been captured, a wide range of possible fraud activities opens up for criminals.

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A particularly perfidious example of identity theft is the misuse of data to set up user accounts on online services. Fraudsters pose as someone else using stolen names, dates of birth, addresses and credit card or account numbers. They use this information to gain the trust of service providers and make purchases or conclude contracts at third-party expense. Victims often only realize too late that their identity has been misused – usually when unexpected transfers are debited from their account or invoices are received for services and products that they never used.

Current figures from Germany

The opinion research institute YouGov presented current figures on identity theft on the Internet in Berlin on Wednesday. The representative survey shows that 11% of adults in Germany have already fallen victim to data thieves who have stolen their identity. And almost one in five respondents (19%) knows someone whose data has already been stolen.

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