Internet ‘phishing’ increasing in Germany amid financial crisis

Internet users beware - hucksters are taking advantage of the global financial crisis with an ever-rising number of frightening spam emails in Germany designed to get you to reveal your private information.

Internet 'phishing' increasing in Germany amid financial crisis
Photo: DPA

Internet criminals are profiting from the financial crisis, hitting up bank customers running scared over plummeting share values and currency fluctuations, according to a report in the Saturday edition of Munich daily Süddeutsche Zeitung.

German internet security firm G-Data told the paper that tricksters have been sending out an increased number of phishing and spam messages in recent weeks, trying to con individuals into revealing their private banking information.

According to G-Data, the number of such mails has been on the rise, and the subject lines have grown increasingly alarmist.

“Beginning tomorrow, €100 will only be worth €9.33” was one subject, while others ask whether shares in Deutsche Bank or Allianz insurance company will be worth anything by the next day.

An unsuspecting individual watching the plummeting share market could be inclined to subscribe to a newsletter for an answer – but a newsletter that requires the revelation of private data, Ralf Benzmüller of G-Data said.

He said the company, which manufactures anti-virus and anti-spam software, had been catching a steadily rising number of such e-mails in their spam filters.

Federal officials have also been warning of racketeers, who lure individuals to seemingly legitimate websites before getting them to reveal their account numbers, passwords and other personal information.

Officials said consumers should never respond to such queries, report them to authorities and keep their virus software up to date. A bank, for instance, would contact them through official channels such as by letter and not via e-mail.


EXPLAINED: Who will benefit from Germany’s minimum wage hike?

Germany's new €12/hour minimum wage, which came into force on October 1st, is set to benefit more than six million people. We look at exactly who is going to be helped by the €1.55/hour increase.

EXPLAINED: Who will benefit from Germany's minimum wage hike?

How much has the minimum wage risen by?
As of October 1st, the minimum wage now stands at €12 per hour, up from €10.45 previously, i.e. an increase of almost 15 percent.

How many people are going to benefit from the increase?
According to the Hans Böckler Foundation’ Institute of Economic and Social Research (WSI), a trade union-linked research foundation, there are at least 6.64 million people who were earning less than €12 per hour before the increase. This includes 3.5 million women and 2.7 million men.

Will this mainly benefit people in full- or part-time work?
If we look at the number of hours worked, we can see the following picture: 1.4 million full-time employees will get a boost to their earnings, and 1.8 million part-time staff and three million people with so-called ‘mini-jobs’ will earn more per hour. A mini-job is where you can either earn a maximum monthly sum or work for no more than three months/70 days per year. Those who only have a mini-job don’t have to pay social security contributions.

The upper earnings limit for people with mini-jobs also rose on October 1st. People can now earn a maximum of €520 per month, up from €450/month previously. 

READ ALSO: The rules in Germany around mini and midi jobs

Does the increase have anything to do with the current energy crisis?
No. The coalition government had already planned this before Russia invaded Ukraine and the resulting energy crisis. After the Bundestag (lower house of parliament) passed the draft law on June 3, 2022, it was confirmed by the Bundesrat (upper house) on June 10 where concerns about the cost-of-living crisis played a key role in the final debate. At that time, several politicians warned that spiralling energy prices and inflation were making many people’s living situations untenable. The government has since introduced other initiatives to help people cope.

READ ALSO: Wohngeld: How people in Germany can get help with rising living costs

In which sectors will the increase have the biggest impact?
More than 60 percent of people working in the hospitality sector will be affected by the increase. According to government data, 46 percent of those working in the agricultural and forestry sector were earning below €12/hour. Thirty-two percent of those in the property sector and 29 percent in the transport and warehousing sector also earned less than the minimum wage.

What are trade unions and employers’ associations saying about the hike?
The German Trade Union Confederation (DGB) has been pushing for an increase for a long time. DGB head Stefan Koerzell recently called the step “a ray of hope in these difficult times”. But the Confederation of German Employers’ Associations’ BDA called Labour and Social Affairs Minister Hubertus Heil’s draft law for the increase of the minimum wage “extremely questionable” from a political and legal perspective. The BDA’s criticism was not targeted at the increase itself, but rather the fact that it was the legislator who was deciding on wage increases instead of employers and trade unions.

What role do trade unions and employers’ associations play when it comes to the minimum wage?
Normally a big one – they sit on the minimum wage board. This committee normally proposes the incremental increases for the base hourly salary, which was introduced in 2015 – it then stood at €8.50. The new legal increase to €12 is outside of this usual mechanism, but the coalition government has promised that after this, the minimum wage commission will be responsible for future increases once again. 

READ ALSO: Everything that changes in Germany in October 2022