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Why you need to remain vigilant about Crit’Air fine texts in France

The number of ‘low-emission fine’ scams is rising as more of the zones are created

A photo of a signpost explaining Crit’Air rules

The Crit’Air stickers show how polluting a vehicle is and whether it can enter a ZFE (low-emission zone) Pic: Leitenberger Photography / Shutterstock

People in France are being warned to be alert to rising numbers of text message Crit’Air scams, as more of the low-emission zones (zones à faibles émissions (ZFE)) are created.

The scam is circulated via text. It tells recipients “that Crit’Air agents have noticed that [your] vehicle did not have a regulation Crit’Air sticker”. As a result, the recipient is told they need to pay a low-emission fine within 48 hours or face more sanctions. This is followed by a link to pay.

The link takes people to a fake site, which then allows the fraudsters to steal the victim’s bank details.

The URL may appear genuine, as it may have some form of ‘official-looking’ government reference, such as using the phrase ‘gouv’. The website has also been designed to closely resemble the official certificate site with similar colours, fonts, and logos. 

Read more: A guide to Crit’Air stickers in France

Sometimes, the fraudsters even attempt a double bluff and call the victim posing as their bank. 

They say that the client has been a victim of fraud, and asks for access to the account to ‘block’ the transaction. In reality, the scammer is simply confirming details and gaining further access to your money.

The number of Crit’Air scams is rising sharply; in 2022, 38 scams were reported in the last six months of the year, compared to just 43 in the 12 months before.

William Hippert, head of France’s Organised Crime Analysis Unit (Sirasco), told France3: “These figures are probably also far below the reality.”

He said that the number of Crit’Air scams was rising, as France prepares to implement more ZFE areas. By 2025, the country is set to have ZFEs in 43 urban areas with more than 150,000 residents.

ZFEs are low-emission zones in urban areas and town centres. Drivers - including of foreign-plated cars - who wish to enter must have the correct level of Crit’Air sticker on their vehicle to indicate how polluting it is. Currently, vehicles with Crit’Air 4 or 5 are most restricted. Restrictions are set to increase over the next few years.

There are currently zones in Greater Paris, Lyon, Aix-Marseille, Toulouse, Nice, Montpellier, Strasbourg, Grenoble, Rouen, Reims and Saint-Étienne. In these zones,circulation of the most polluting vehicles can be limited.

How can I avoid being scammed?

  • If you receive such a message, do not click on the link or reply to the text. Instead, report it to 33 700.
  • Be aware that the real website is at www.certificat-air.gouv.fr only. Check the URL carefully.
  • A real Crit’Air sticker costs €3.70 including postage –nothing more.
  • The real website will never ask you for personal data or to pay a fine via a lInk in a text.

Related articles

Where you need to have a Crit'Air sticker in France

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