Guide: How to Report Fraud in Germany
In today’s fast-paced digital world, fraud can take many shapes and forms, making it increasingly crucial to stay informed and prepared. This comprehensive guide aims to empower you with the knowledge to report fraud in Germany and arm you with essential tools to protect yourself from falling prey to such scams.
What is Fraud?
Fraud, in the legal sense, refers to any deceitful conduct designed to manipulate another individual or entity into parting with something of value, typically money or personal information. Fraud can occur in various domains, including online scams, banking, insurance, and more.
Signs of Fraud
Understanding the common signs of fraud is your first line of defense.
Here are some major signs to be aware of:
- Pressure or Rush Tactics: Fraudsters often use pressure tactics or create a sense of urgency to prevent their victims from having the time to verify their claims or seek advice. If someone is pressuring you to make a decision quickly, especially involving money, it could be a sign of fraud.
- Too Good to Be True: Offers that promise high returns with little to no risk are generally a red flag. If an investment or business opportunity seems too good to be true, it often is.
- Discrepancies in Communications: Fraudsters often use vague language, refuse to disclose information, or provide unverifiable explanations. If you notice any inconsistencies or discrepancies in someone’s communication, it may be a sign of fraudulent activity.
- Requests for Confidential Information: Requests for sensitive information, such as passwords, PINs, or personal identification information, are often a sign of fraud, especially if these requests come unsolicited or from unknown sources.
It’s essential to stay vigilant, trust your instincts, and seek professional advice if you suspect you’re dealing with fraud. For more information on this topic, consider reading our article “10 Signs That You Are Being Scammed”.
How to Report Fraud in Germany
If you suspect you have been a victim of fraud in Germany, it’s essential to act promptly. Here are the steps you need to take:
1. Contact Your Bank or Credit Card Company
If the fraud involves your bank or credit card, contact your financial institution immediately. They may be able to stop the transaction and assist in the recovery of your funds. If payment cards or identity documents have been stolen, it’s essential to block the cards quickly. In such cases, contact the Emergency hotline for blocking cards at +49 116 116. You can still report the theft online1.
2. File a Report Online
In Germany, most states (Länder) offer the possibility to file criminal complaints online via so-called online police stations. These are called either “Internetwache” or “Onlinewache” depending on the state.
You can file criminal complaints online in the following Länder:
Bavaria, Saarland, and Thuringia don’t yet have online police stations but you can still contact the police via the Internet1:
Steps to File a Complaint Online
- Go to the website of the region where the crime was committed. Each region’s online police station website can be found at the end of this article1.
- Select the “Filing a Criminal Complaint” section. If you are unsure if the incident is a crime, submit the information instead of a criminal complaint1.
- Fill out the online form. The form will ask about the incident’s details, potential witnesses, the damage amount, and possible motives of the offender. Your personal data will also be recorded1.
- Submit the form. After submission, you’ll receive a confirmation and a file number from the police, which you should print out for your records1.
Your online criminal complaint will then be reviewed by the police and forwarded to the relevant police department for processing1.
3. Report to Local Police
However, online police stations are not suitable if evidence must be secured, the circumstances at the scene of the crime must be recorded, or if the facts of the case are very extensive or complicated1.
If you are a victim of internet crime, reports can also be relayed to the police and public prosecutor’s office via reporting centres. These centres also offer help with filing criminal complaints and requests to prosecute1. They will guide you through the process and file a report on your behalf.
4. File a Report with the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA)
You can also file a report with the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA). Their website provides an online form for reporting fraud.
Whistleblowing in Germany
In some situations, individuals may come across fraudulent activities within their organizations. Reporting these as a whistleblower has its own set of guidelines. Currently, Germany does not have an overarching law protecting whistleblowers, and the burden of proof in retaliation cases rests with the whistleblower. However, private whistleblowers can report dangers to health or safety, including crimes, in the workplace theoretically without retaliation. They must report their suspicions internally before going to authorities2.
Germany is currently in the process of transposing the EU Whistleblowing Directive. Until its completion, whistleblowers might be better off reporting to U.S. regulators where possible, as there are no reward provisions for successful whistleblowers in German law2.
Reporting fraud can be a stressful experience, but understanding the process can help mitigate the impact and prevent future occurrences. Stay vigilant, stay informed, and remember that help is always available. If you find yourself in need of assistance or guidance, don’t hesitate to reach out to us at T&H Consulting. Our team is dedicated to providing support and advice tailored to your unique situation. Feel free to browse our website to learn more about our services or get in touch with our team. We’re committed to helping you navigate through your situation with the utmost care and professionalism.