Millions of kronor stolen in spate of BankID scams

More than 20 million Swedish kronor was stolen in one single month in a spate of bank scams this summer.

Millions of kronor stolen in spate of BankID scams
Beware of BankID scams, police warn. Photo: Jessica Gow/TT

BankID is an electronic identification system originally developed by banks and used widely across Swedish society, including government authorities, businesses, banks and other organizations.

But fraudsters are increasingly taking advantage of the scheme to get their hands on your money.

Last month alone, 19.6 million kronor ($2.14 million) was stolen in such scams, according to police figures reported by Dagens Nyheter. In June the figure was even higher: 21.6 million kronor.

“It has become a national problem that is threatening the system,” Stefan Larsson, the police's chief investigator of national serial crimes, told the Swedish daily on Monday.

READ ALSO: Beware of new bank scam, Swedish police warn

Two people were sentenced to jail at the end of July in Sweden's first BankID scam conviction, and another three people are expected to be charged in September in connection with a similar scam.

They usually unfold like this: someone calls to tell you that your bank account has been hacked. Pretending to be a police officer, they inform you that you should expect a call from your bank.

A second scammer then calls, pretending to be from the bank and asking you to log in to your account via BankID. But they have already typed in your Swedish personal identification number on the bank's website, so when you log in to BankID, you instead log them into your account.

They then ask you to try logging in again later – at which point the same thing happens and you end up inadvertently transferring your money to another account which they have set up.

The best way for BankID users to protect against the new wave of bank scams is to never give out your personal codes or information and never use it at the prompting of anyone who contacts you. If you receive a suspicious phone call, the best course of action is to hang up and then contact your bank's customer service to check on the veracity of the call and report the suspicious activity.

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What happens if you don’t pay a bill in Sweden?

Sweden's Enforcement Authority is responsible for collecting unpaid debts, fines, and declarations of bankruptcy. So, what happens if an unpaid bill reaches the Enforcement Authority, and can you do anything if you have a black mark on your record?

What happens if you don't pay a bill in Sweden?

What happens when you have a bill?

Usually, if you have a bill in Sweden, you will receive an invoice (faktura) either digitally or via post, which will include details such as the amount owed, who to pay and the date payment is due (förfallodatum).

If you don’t pay the invoice in time, the person you owe money to may turn the case over to inkasso, or a debt collection agency, who will again send you an invoice for payment, plus the agency’s fee.

If this invoice goes unpaid, the Enforcement Authority will get involved.

The Swedish Enforcement Authority, Kronofogden in Swedish, is responsible for collecting unpaid debts. It does this by providing advice and support to those who are unable to pay their debts, as well as helping creditors – such as, for example, landlords whose tenants have not paid their rent.

The debt collection agency will pass unpaid bills on to them, and you may receive a betalningsanmärkning or black mark on your credit record.

Before you receive a black mark, however, you will first receive an ansökan om betalningsföreläggande from the Enforcement Authority. If you pay this in time, your debt will not be registered as a betalningsanmärkning.

There are some types of payment where you can receive a betalningsanmärkning without the bill going through a debt collection agency first. These are usually payments owed to the state, such as unpaid tax, unpaid student loan repayments or unpaid municipal parking fees.

You are unlikely to come into contact with the Enforcement Authority unless you miss or forget to pay a bill.

What happens if you get a black mark?

A black mark can have pretty major consequences – it can stop you from hiring a car, getting a credit card, borrowing money (including getting a mortgage), taking out a phone contract or even renting an apartment, as well as barring you from ordering anything on credit or paying via invoice.

This is due to the fact that whenever you apply for a loan or credit in Sweden, the lender will check your credit score (kreditupplysning) to see if there is any risk of you not paying up. Many lenders have a strict policy on not lending to individuals with black marks on their credit score to minimise risk, no matter whether the mark is due to an unpaid phone bill or a missed mortgage repayment.

How can I check if I have one?

You can check if you have a black mark by contacting a credit check company – here is a list of all credit check companies in Sweden. Some may charge a small fee for the service, whereas others offer it for free.

One advantage of checking your own credit score before contacting a lender is that your credit score is not affected when you carry out a check on yourself. 

If, however, a bank carries out a credit check on you, this can affect your credit score – it’s usually not an issue if you carry out one or two checks, but a lot of checks in a short period of time could cause issues.

Can you do anything to remove it?

Unfortunately, no. 

All you can do is wait – a black mark will disappear from your record after three years for private individuals or five years for businesses. 

The best strategy is to avoid getting a black mark on your record in the first place – such as by paying your bills via autogiro (direct debit), keeping an eye on your post (as well as your digital post), and paying for items up-front if possible to avoid invoices, rather than using “buy now, pay later” credit services such as Klarna or Clearpay.