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Carte Vitale scam: People in France warned over fake emails and texts

The messages appear genuine but will ask you to enter sensitive data or card details. If in doubt, do not click any links or fill in any forms, and here’s what to do if you have been scammed

A woman holds her head in her hands while looking at a computer

Scam emails and SMS may look genuine but are designed to trick you out of your personal details Pic: fizkes / Shutterstock

People in France are being warned to watch out for increasingly common carte Vitale scams which seek to steal your personal data.

Reports are rising of people in France being targeted by fraudulent text messages (SMS’s) and email messages offering recipients to renew their carte Vitale, or alleging that their old card is expiring and they must order a new one.

Health authority l’Assurance Maladie has confirmed that “there is no campaign for people to get a new carte Vitale”. All messages alluding to this are, therefore, extremely likely to be scams.

From January this year, public interest group l’Action contre la cybermalveillance (ACYMA) noted an increase in reports of these fake messages. 

The scammers pose as officials from l’Assurance maladie, and invite victims to enter their real details online, in order to steal them. Some also ask for bank details for alleged “payment”.

ACYMA warned: “[The real Assurance maladie] will never ask you to confirm your identity or your bank details to send you a carte vitale.”

It comes soon after la Caisse nationale des allocations familiales (Cnaf) also warned of the rise in scam emails using its logo, asking people to enter their details to receive an “inflation bonus”. It warned people to stay alert, not to click on the link, and to delete the message.

Read more: France scam alert: Watch out for fake emails about inflation bonus

The scams are a form of ‘phishing’ (hameçonnage in French). 

This is where the scammers pose as real agencies and groups, often using very convincing fonts, colours or logos to trick you into believing the messages are genuine.

Yet, a closer look often reveals suspicious details, such as random email addresses, grammatical or spelling errors, bad quality images, or links that bear little relation to the real agency, ACYMA said, such as “no-reply@extreme-cargo.com” or “sryeq.dfader@newsletters.ablidsere.fr”, for example.

However, sometimes scammers can “spoof” existing SMS numbers to make it appear as though their messages are coming from a genuine source, so you are advised to remain alert.

If you receive any unexpected emails or SMS asking you to log in to a website, enter personal details or payment data, do not click on any links included or enter any details, and check directly with the agency itself independently if the messages are genuine.

What can I do if I think I have received a scam message? 

  • You can alert spam website Signal Spam, and phishing can also be reported to anti-phishing website Phishing Initiative, to help get the fraudulent site shut down

  • Do not click on any links or buttons

  • Do not enter your details or data into any forms that you have not sought out independently yourself

  • Do not enter any payment or bank details

  • If in doubt, contact the organisation (e.g. Caf or l’Assurance maladie) directly

  • Delete the email if you think it is fraudulent.

What if I’ve been tricked already? 

  • If you have entered bank details, contact your bank immediately. They will be able to secure your account and may be able to reimburse you in case of stolen funds

  • Contact the agency concerned to let them know. They may be able to secure your account by changing the password or resetting your details

  • Keep the original email or SMS – it will act as proof of the scam

  • Report a complaint to the local police station or gendarmerie, and be ready to show proof

  • If you have entered your password anywhere, such as via a log-in form, change it immediately, as well as on any other sites where you may use it

In case of any questions, there is a free advice line for scams, Info Escroqueries, at 0 805 805 81.

For more tips and advice, see the CyberMalveillance.gouv.fr website.

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