- Everyday Life
How to avoid common scams in Germany
12 Apr 2022
In recent years, Germany has become a very popular destination for expats and students who want to work or study in a country with very good job opportunities and a high standard of living. Nevertheless, there are some challenges awaiting people who are newly settling in Germany. This includes a range of common scams and frauds that criminals use in order to take as much money from their victims as possible. In this article, we will not only give you an overview on the most common scams you should be aware of when settling and living in Germany. In addition, this article will also provide you with useful recommendations on how to avoid falling prey to these criminal frauds and what to do in a case of emergency.
Before even travelling to Germany, you already need to be careful. As we have explained in our article on carrying gold while entering Germany, there are specific customs rules that you are obliged to follow. A typical scam in this context would be people approaching you before taking your flight and asking you to take valuables such as jewellery or gold with you. Usually the explanation will involve a friend or relative in an emergency situation who would need these valuables immediately to pay a debt or the like. However, in most of the cases this is simply a trick to make you carry the expensive goods which will make you responsible for the customs violations without even knowing it. So, only bring your own possessions and always make sure to pack your luggage yourself so that you know what is inside.
Also when you have already arrived in Germany, you need to be particularly careful about your valuable belongings. Since many criminals know that people from South Asia often invest their money in gold or jewellery, burglars break more often into their houses than in those of other societal groups. The German police has compiled a list of recommendations on how to protect your home against thieves: This includes never hiding your keys outside, immediately exchanging your lock when you lose your keys as well as not disclosing your current location on social media. The full list as well as more useful information can be accessed here (in German). To contact the German police in an emergency you can dial 110, whereas ambulance and fire brigade can be reached with the number 112.
Other criminals are specifically targeting Indians residing in Germany by making use of fraudulent telephone calls. As the Embassy of India to Germany has notified on their website, these criminals claim to be officials from the Indian Embassies and Consulates and thereby try to gain trust to receive confidential information or to blackmail people. For instance, they claim that the legal status in Germany would have expired and that payment of several thousands of Euros would be needed to legally stay in Germany. If you receive such a call, you should not share any information or pay any money. The Embassy of India advises to report such instances to the India mission via e-mail. Apart from that, you can also contact the police.
While you should be aware of these and other scams, there is no need to panic. There are a range of organisations in Germany that provide professional help and counselling in case you experience such a discomforting situation. While the German police offers a lot of useful information on how to prevent frauds, you can also get help from non-governmental institutions. The non-profit organisation “Weisser Ring” is specialised in providing help to victims of different forms of criminality, such as cyber crime. Their anonymous telephone helpline can be reached for free from 7am to 10pm by dialling 116 006. Another very useful institution is the Verbraucherzentrale (consumer advice center) which is informing the general public about scams and frauds in relation to products and services offered by companies. On their website you can even file a complaint yourself that will then be thoroughly checked and made public, if it has been confirmed.
We hope this article will help you to identify the most common scams in Germany and to know what you should do in order not to fall into such a trap. If there are any further questions, please comment below, connect with others in the New2 FORUM or write to us at [email protected]!
Written by: Ferdinand Schlechta
Cover Photo: Unsplash - Pickawood
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