Lifelong toxic data

She was searched for months by the police, there were arrest warrants against her and even Tina Groll was convicted. However, the journalist knew nothing of all this: Criminals had stolen their identity and abused it online and offline.

Identity theft has long ceased to be just a Hollywood theme, but a real mass phenomenon. According to studies, 20 to more than 30 percent of Germans are affected. Tina Groll is one of them, in 2009 criminals abuse their identity: Suddenly there are arrest warrants for the journalist and debt collection agencies are looking for her. The long struggle to cleanse her name makes her an expert, today she fights for more privacy and wants to help those affected and journalists. Together with former Interpol investigator Cem Karakaya she publishes the book Cyber-Pros.

For years, when I come home in the evening, I go straight to the mailbox.If I go on vacation longer, I get nervous days before the trip home, the mailbox after my return When the time comes, my heart thumps loudly, my hands sweat, I hope I will not find anything bad in it, No, I’m not crazy, I do not suffer from a rare phobia Year 2009. Victims of identity theft, months after months, I received almost daily reminders and threatening letters from debt collection agencies, and even today false data keeps misinterpreting my life … “(excerpt from the book” The Cyber ​​Professionals “)

Tina Groll C Kay Blaschke 300Dpi 2 Mb
Journalist and author Tina Groll (Photo: Kay Blaschke)

When debt collection companies are at your doorstep

Although the case is now nine years back, he does not let go of Tina Groll. She unrolls it in her book, explains how she felt when she discovered someone was abusing her identity. She also talks about the long and tedious process of having the wrong data erased to cleanse her name.


She should have made debts and received goods worth tens of thousands of euros – from companies whose names she had never heard of.

Even arrest warrants were filed against the editor, for months the police searched for her, there were entries in the debtor list and in her absence she was even convicted. “All this happened while I was unaware of my normal life as a journalist in Berlin,” says Tina Groll.

“It’s scary, if others spend for themselves,” said the election Berliner and explains how bold the perpetrators were in her case: “The fraudsters even submitted a letter to debt collection companies in which they claimed to be neighbors Neighbors where the alleged Tina Groll has leased in the meantime and this woman had allegedly ordered so much, they wrote, “remembers Groll.

In hundreds of cases, Tina Groll’s scammers have ordered goods from mail-order companies on behalf of a mail order company within a few weeks, using a fake e-mail address they made out of their name and date of birth.

This is not a problem on the net, says the expert, the online shops’ business policy makes it easy for criminals: “They deliver to any address – in the confidence that the customer already paid,” says Groll. If necessary, the mail order companies check the creditworthiness of Schufa, and if that is good, the goods will be dispatched, in which case deliveries amounting to tens of thousands of euros have been sent. ” To steal the identity of a human is meanwhile very easy, so grudges. “All you need is his name and date of birth. Data that is easily found on the internet. If you then have another clue, such as the profession of the person, you can cheerfully avail of its credit rating. “

The consequences of identity theft

To this day, it is unclear how and where the perpetrators came to the data of Tina grudge. “You do not necessarily have fished them off the net,” she says. The investigating authorities at that time were even assumed that the fraudsters had “simply come across” Tina grudge, professional goods fraudsters who do not know their victims.

“For journalists, the birth dates are often stated under publications,” said Groll – and that was probably the case with her shortly before the theft of ID theft. “The only thing cyber was in the thing was that the perpetrators online on account under my name and using my date of birth in hundreds of cases, goods often worth of four-digit sums ordered.” More data is still not needed for trade credit fraud in connection with ID theft. “

The act in itself was not the worst, but the rat’s tail it pulls to itself: “The real burden arises from the false data that Schufa and Co – there are now over 80 such companies in Germany – redistributed and with others real ID records are merged to create a completely wrong record. “

After all, the data-processing companies and credit bureaus pass on this false data to their contractual partners – mostly banks, insurance companies and telecommunications companies. And even these companies would often pass on all or part of the wrong data, along with the real ones stored with them, to their business partners. And these in turn to theirs. “Anyone who distributes what is completely intransparent,” explains Groll. “So it happens that an ID theft for a lifetime brings toxic data that you can not get rid of by deleting at one point.”

However, the DSGVO made it easier to delete incorrect data. However, the ignorance of companies is still great: In many cases, her lawyer had even explain to companies several times, as the data has to be deleted under the Data Protection Act.

After about a year, a lot of energy and 800 hours of work, most of the wrong data about Tina Groll are then cleaned up. Together with her lawyer, she was able to clean her name again.

All this costs a lot of money.

“My lawyer calculates on an hourly basis, and in the end I’ll find that it would have been better to simply pay the fraudsters’ debts,” Tina Groll’s website says. “The damage to my reputation can not even be quantified, I never wanted to be an identity theft expert, but sometimes you do not find the topics, but the topics you find yourself.”

Therefore, the journalist is today for victims and victims, clarifies and informs about this very complex and still opaque topic.

So what do you have to do if you discover that your own identity is abused? “Do not ignore, but react immediately and contradict the demands.” The burden of proof lies with the requesting company. “

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