What you need to know about Austria’s ‘fake cop’ scam

Fake calls purporting to be from the police and which are often made in English have attempted to con people out of money in Styria, Upper Austria Tyrol and Vienna.

A picture of a phone
Police are warning about fake "cop bots'

Police are warning people living in Austria about a new scam which involves fake “police bots” who call up mobile phone numbers and play a recorded message warning the victim about invented crime. 

EXPLAINED: Five common apartment scams in Austria

Police report the recorded voice (often in English), usually introduces itself by saying “Police Department” or “Polizei”.

It then invents various crime and offers assistance, by attempting to trick people who answer the call into installing remote software. However, the malware installed gives the perpetrators access to all the mobile phone datas. 

Police recommend if you receive a call like this, you should 

  • End the phone call immediately
  • Not install software (remote access)
  • Not disclose personal data
  • Immediately report the incident to the police

This is not the first scam involving mobile phones in Austria, another scam involves fake SMS messages pretending to be from the parcel delivery service DHL. 

READ MORE: Austrian police warn residents of fake DHL message scam

The message typically reads that a “pending package” is available and it is the “last chance to pick it up”, before inviting the recipient to click on a link. 

However, the link then installs malware on the recipient’s phone by inviting them to install an app.


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Can I have a barbecue on my balcony in Austria?

Summer is here, making it the perfect time to grill. But are you allowed to do it - and under what circumstances can your landlord stop you?

Can I have a barbecue on my balcony in Austria?
Grilling in Austria. What are the rules? Photo by James Sutton on Unsplash

With the weather getting warmer and heatwaves sweeping across the country, we’re now in peak barbecue season. 

For those lucky ducks with a big backyard in Austria, you’ve probably already cooked up a barbecue or two this year. 

The situation is different however for city dwellers or anyone with an apartment. 

Due to the high density living in many parts of Austria, there are often restrictions on what you are allowed to do – even on your own property. 

As The Local Austria reported in 2016, neighbours have successfully challenged a person’s right to smoke on their balcony. 

The consequence was a partial ban during certain times which was in fact incredibly complicated. 

The court has now come up with a set of rules as to when the man can and can’t smoke at home, depending on whether it’s winter or summer. It said smoking is not allowed on the balcony or with the windows open between 10pm and 6am and that during the summer a smoking ban should also be upheld during the usual “eating and resting times” – between 8am and 10am, midday and 3pm, and 6pm and 8pm.”

Therefore, Austrian courts will not be reluctant to restrict what you can do on your balcony – and in the most complicated way possible. 

These restrictions are not only from a legal perspective, but could be a part of your tenancy agreement. 

Does Austrian law let me grill on my balcony? 

Strictly speaking, there are no Austrian laws that prevent you from having a BBQ on your balcony. 

The major question – and what the court looked at in the above smoking example – is whether the action “goes beyond what is customary for the location”, under Section 364 (2) ABGB (Austria’s General Civil Code). 

This is the case with regard to noise, smoke, odour and other actions that can impact a neighbour’s enjoyment of their property. 

Of course, this means that it will be a question for a court to determine if there is a dispute. 

If your neighbours are fine with it, then there will be no issues. If they do have a problem however, then they can go to court and get an injunction to stop you from doing it. 

One major thing that the court will consider is whether the smoke from the BBQ enters another person’s house, i.e. it “penetrates the windows” reports Vienna Online. 

This means that while the smoke and the smell might waft across someone else’s balcony, it will only be an issue if it enters their house. 

So unless you’re grilling brontosaurus burgers day in day out, it’s unlikely that occasional barbecue activity will breach Austrian law. 

That said, if your neighbour’s grilling is becoming a problem – and nothing is being done about it – you may be entitled to ask for a rent reduction under section 1096 ABGB. You will be entitled to a reduction if the property cannot be used as contractually agreed

Can my landlord stop me from having a barbecue on my balcony? 

Another possible buzzkill will be your tenancy arrangement, which can prevent you from doing certain activities. 

READ MORE: Why do so few Austrians own their home?

If your lease agreement expressly prohibits you from barbecuing, then you need to stick to it. 

If you breach this, you may receive a formal warning or in some instances have your lease terminated. 

The latter is an extreme option, but generally these clauses are written into a tenancy agreement for a reason. 

One thing to remember is that the tenancy agreement is just that – an agreement. This means that even if you don’t know about the clause, you technically agreed to it. 

This is important because it means that a clause cannot be put in at a later time to prevent you from grilling – unless of course you agree to its inclusion. 

Some tenancy agreements will prohibit particular types of grills, i.e. charcoal or wood, while allowing others such as electric or gas barbecues. 

While the smell of your tasty sausages is going to be there nonetheless, obviously electric or gas grills will not produce smoke and will not annoy your neighbours as much. 

This is something to consider even if there are no express prohibitions. 

And even if you are restricted from some or all types of grilling, ultimately your neighbours are the ones who it will impact – and who are likely to complain. 

So if you want to give yourself the best chance of being on their good side while grilling this summer, invite them around for a Käsekrainer or two.