Online and SMS scams about Crit’Air stickers are spreading in France, as increased numbers of towns and cities introduce rules about pollution and vehicle emissions.
Crit’Air stickers show how polluting a vehicle is, and are also known as ‘air quality certificates / certificats qualité de l’air’. Many urban areas now have rules stating that only vehicles with certain levels of Crit’Air rating can enter.
Read more: A guide to Crit’Air stickers in France
The scam, which is mainly spreading by SMS, email, and via website link, incorrectly tells recipients that they must buy a new Crit’Air sticker within 48 hours.
It then directs you to a link to ‘buy a new sticker’, for a higher-than-normal price of €3.70. This is a scam, and the scammers may then be able to steal more money from you once you have ‘made the payment’.
Bear in mind that:
- Crit’Air stickers always cost €3.70 only, with €3.11 for the sticker and €0.59 for the postage (affranchissement)
- If you have bought your Crit’Air sticker within the past two years, your sticker will still be valid as the thresholds have not changed in that time
- The urgency of ‘48 hours’ is also a sign that the message is almost certainly a scam
The Police Nationale tweeted a warning against the scam, saying: “The official Crit’Air website does not send SMSs or emails to get you to buy a sticker.”
[#MardiConseil] Non, vous n'avez pas besoin de racheter une vignette Crit'Air sous 48h, il s'agit d'une #arnaque ! Le site officiel Crit'Air n'envoie pas de SMS ou de mail pour vous faire acheter une vignette.— Police nationale (@PoliceNationale) October 18, 2022
➕ d'infos ici sur https://t.co/dkkYka5URu pic.twitter.com/CH2OmaJFgd
If you receive an SMS or email out of the blue, purporting to be from Crit’Air, it is very likely to be a scam. You are advised not to open it or click on any links, and simply to delete it.
There is only one official Crit’Air website, which is here: https://certificat-air.gouv.fr/
What to do if you have been scammed
If you believe that you have fallen victim to this scam (or any others), you can find support and report it on the website cybermalveillance.gouv.
You can also text the platform on 33700, or report the scam to the Phishing Initiative website.
The Cybermalveillance website also has a support helpline via the France Victimes association, which you can contact on 116 006 (free call), seven days a week, from 09:00 to 19:00.
Call your bank to let them know that your details have been compromised - it may be able to stop the fraudulent payment and block any further attempts.
Change any passwords or other details that you may have accidentally revealed to scammers.
Crit’Air in the news
The scams are thought to be circulating now because Crit’Air stickers have been in the news lately.
This is due to recent announcements that 43 urban areas with more than 150,000 residents across France are set to have a Zone à Faibles Émissions (Low-emission zone, ZFE) in place by 2025. Similarly, the government has also announced plans to automate checks and fines by 2024.
Drivers in these ZFEs will need to have a Crit’Air sticker of an acceptable level to enter.
Figures from the Ecology Ministry show that: “To the date on August 28, 2022, 22,985,497 air quality certificates have been delivered.”