Sweden is a safe country by any standards. It is in fact a safe heaven, safer than vast majority of other countries. Chances are that the thing you will be most scared of is …. the darkness.
Being in this safe country that is built on trust and transparency with well-thought procedures in most daily interactions, one has little reason to be suspicious. Unless you are an expert, you will hardly know that a number of online crimes are on the rise. Online harassment, Identity theft and various schemes of fraud are booming activity.
What can happen with my data?
That is the real concern and it should always be. What’s happening to my stolen data, and how is it going to be used?
They can plan online who to target. Women living alone for unwanted advances or harassment, older citizens for romance scams, DINKS for burglaries, Children get targeted in multiple way. Recently, the FBI released its annual report on what internet-related crimes reported to them looked like.
Online scams using your personal data
Sophisticated networks of elaborated scams are using any bit of data trying to get you. Quick look inside your spam folder will be telling, you as individual will be targeted using:
- Romance Frauds ( Careful when the new partner is unusually cuter/younger/sexier )
- Extortion (Careful older boys when sexting with that hot new girl. She might be recording you secretively)
- Trust Fraud (Careful wealthy people: your assets are at risk)
- Identity Theft (Expanding type of crime in Sweden)
- Financial crime
- Phishing / Vishing (you already get daily messages trying to get you to click a link in your emailbox)
- Lottery scam
- Social fraud (Careful with sharing your account log ins)
- Crypto scams (Metamask will never email you)
- NFT scams
Very commonly, stolen data or stolen log in credentials will be used by a criminals to apply for a credit cards or an online bank loan in your name(!). By the time the bank realizes they’re not getting their money back, the fraudster is gone. You are left with a loan to pay back.
When your safety is at risk?
Special attention needs to be given to various forms of harassment. With your address data being public, your personal safety could easily be compromised. Harmless online feud can become a risk when your data is online. Even Swedes who work in law enforcement have been targeted using their personal data.
Businesses are at risk too
If you run a business in Sweden, at some point you will face Credit Fraud. Fraudsters pretend to represent a legitimate company and trade on credit / invoice in the company’s name from another company. The fraudster receives the products and the “hijacked” company receives the invoice. As crime, it is under-reported but ubiquitous.
Swedish police investigate (sometimes) the crimes that are reported to them!
However crimes where fraudsters are found outside Sweden’s borders never get investigated. The cases are closed without action. This is where transparency and the lax enforcement of personal data protection in Swedes backfires. Fraudster networks can use our data and our personal information online while happily continuing scams from abroad.
Even just a small amount of stolen data can be a massive headache for you. Fraudsters get hold of emails and passwords from data breaches. In the next step they use bots try email-password combinations at other popular sites. As people still use the same email/password for multiple accounts, it’s possible for the fraudster to get into your accounts using stolen log ins from your departments store loyalty card.
Protecting your personal information is key to prevent cyber intrusions and online crimes. Fraudsters will use it to steal as much as they can, and this can have a profoundly negative impact on your life!