A rising number of people in France are falling victim to scam messages instructing them to renew or purchase a Crit’Air (vehicle emissions rating) sticker at up to ten times the correct price, or face a fine. Often the drivers targeted do not need a sticker.
There have also been warnings that search engines show other sites selling these stickers at €10, €20 or €30. The other sites may not be illegal but they charge more for the stickers, which should only cost €3.11 + P&P each.
The Connexion checked this and can confirm that it is the case.
Scams are becoming more widespread as more areas in France prepare to bring in Crit'Air anti-pollution vehicle stickers in the coming years.
These small coloured stickers – showing a number relating to the emissions produced by different vehicles – need to be shown in a growing list of restricted traffic zones (known as zones à faibles émissions or ZFEs).
Vehicles registered outside France must also display them if entering the designated areas.
The scam usually works by SMS with a message reading something like this:
"Nos agents ont constaté que votre véhicule n'était pas muni de la vignette réglementaire Crit'Air. Veuillez cliquer sur le lien ci-dessous pour la récupérer sous peine de contraventions."
This translates to: “Our agents have identified that your vehicle does not have a regulation Crit’Air sticker. Please click on the link below to update it, or you will be subject to fines.”
The link takes you to a page where you can buy ‘regulation’ Crit’Air stickers. The problem is that these stickers are being sold for a much higher price than the real stickers.
The SMS is a scam and you will very likely not receive a Crit’Air sticker you ‘purchase’ at the link. The scammers could then steal even more money from you once they have your bank details.
Emmanuel Rivière, director of the climate agency that manages the Crit’Air system, told France Bleu: “In no case will the climate agency contact anyone by SMS about the Crit’Air sticker.”
Read more: French scam alert: Watch out for texts about Crit’Air stickers
What is the right way to order a Crit’Air sticker?
- The only website to use to order Crit’Air stickers is: www.certificat-air.gouv.fr.
- The stickers cost €3.70 each, including postage. (€3.11 + €0.59 postage).
The homepage of the official website, www.certificat-air.gouv.fr., looks like this.
The website can be translated into English (and German) by clicking on the ‘EN’ or ‘DE’ links at the top of the page.
No other website is authorised to sell the stickers, and the price should never be higher than the official cost.
If you search online for the website or a way to buy the stickers, be aware of the alternatives that can show up and look only for the website address detailed above.
Why are scams on the rise?
Scams of this nature have increased in recent months as more cities in France introduce the Crit’Air rating system.
The cities in which there are ZFEs (low-emission zones) currently in place are: Paris, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Strasbourg, Toulouse, Nice, Montpellier, Grenoble, Reims, Rouen and Saint-Étienne.
Read also: Marseille brings in road restrictions to help reduce air pollution
In these urban zones, the most-polluting vehicles can be subject to restrictions at certain times or if air pollution reaches dangerous levels.
Between now and 2025, 43 urban areas with more than 150,000 people will have introduced a ZFE, with rules differing depending on decisions made by local authorities.
Smaller towns will also have the option to create a low-emissions zone if they wish.
A guide to Crit’Air stickers in France
Where you need to have a Crit'Air sticker in France
Crit’Air sticker scams continue in France, online and via SMS