Falling prey to cyber criminals is easier than you think, as Peter Trap found out, and getting the money back much harder. The 44-year-old struggled for months to get thousands of euros back from his bank account after his personal details were stolen. The European Parliament has worked for years to ensure better protection of our online data and get tougher penalties for cybercrimes to help people such as Peter.
Peter, who travels a lot , often uses open networks, but he was still shocked to discover from his credit card statement for January that he had been charged €3,700 for the purchase of nearly 50 apps through an online store. These purchases were made via his account - using his login, passwords and credit card numbers - but Peter had not bought these products, nor had his partner or children. He said: “I had clearly been hacked, but how to explain and prove that?”
He immediately contacted both the app-store and the credit card company, but his problems were far from over. “I must admit that I got very cross when I noticed that new false purchases were credited to the same credit card in February,” he said. The total bill rose to more than €4000.
The refund was made over the months that followed, but it was only in July that Peter got all his money back. “It was a slow, frustrating and tiresome process," he said. Peter, who lives in Sweden, never found out how his personal information got stolen, but he is now much more prudent than he used to be. Although he still uses the internet, he steers away from unprotected networks and only buys apps using a gift voucher.
The European Parliament has also been concerned about this problem. In July 2013, MEPs voted to strengthen sanctions for cybercrimes such as identity theft or the illegal access and exploitation of a computer system. They are also preparing an update of data protection legislation that will give internet users more control over the information companies keep on them. The new rules would lead to hefty fines for companies that use sensitive data without consent. Find out more by clicking on the links on the right.