Get a bargain on the Internet? This can also be quite a backlash. According to the consumer protection agency, four million consumers in Germany have already fallen victim to fake shops on the Internet. A frighteningly high number, against which the Lands of the Federal Republic take action now.

You order something on the Internet and look forward to the article – but nothing happens. The product never existed and suddenly the money is simply gone. Who has still more bad luck, the fraudsters immediately empty the whole bank account and then disappear.

So that exactly this does not happen any more the German Lands of the Federal Republic decided now to proceed against it. The consumer minister speaks out immediately for several measures, in order to contain the meanwhile widespread problem with fake shops in Germany.


What can you do against fraud?

Sometimes you are lucky and can turn to your bank a few hours after the payment and reverse the payments. With some payment methods, such as direct debit, this is sometimes still possible for up to eight weeks. It is also important to keep and secure all the receipts for the order. This includes the purchase contract, order confirmation, e-mails and a screenshot of the offer. Legally, such a procedure is fraud and you can file a criminal complaint. However, the perpetrators are rarely caught because they almost always act abroad.

Authorities must act faster

The big problem is the quick reaction of the fraudsters. Often a fake shop is only a few days online and the linked bank account is registered under a false name. Before the authorities find out about it for the first time, in many cases the money has already flowed into various accounts abroad and the fakeshop has become inactive again.

Identity verification

The new measures will include an identity check when registering a de-domain. Fraudsters like to use a German domain in order to create trust among consumers. In addition, the shops also like to use seals of quality such as “Trusted Shop” in order to pretend that they are dealing with serious offers. With the obligatory identity check, fraudsters will have a harder time creating new websites all the time.

Public list

In order to enable consumers to identify counterfeit shops more quickly, the ministers also want to publish a public list on the Internet and update it on an ongoing basis. A similar project already exists in Austria. However, it is unclear whether this list can really keep up with the rapid development of fakeshops and which criteria apply.


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Image: istock