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Four common scams to watch out for in France

How to recognise the tricks and who can help if you are a victim

Text messages can appear to come from trusted companies and are easy to believe Pic: fizkes / Shutterstock

It can be harder to recognise scams when you receive official-looking messages asking you to take action if they are not written in your first language.

If you fall victim to a scam, you should inform your bank and report it to the police or gendarmerie. 

You can contact France Victimes for help with this by calling 116 006 (or, if abroad, +33 (0) 1 80 52 33 76).

They are used to helping foreign nationals who are victims of crime in France. 

Once you have told the bank, you can report bank account fraud using the government’s online ‘Perceval’ platform.

Here are common scams doing the rounds in France:

1. UPS scam 

One to watch out for if you are selling second-hand goods online. While not limited to France, it is commonly reported here.

The scammer will send a message pretending to be interested in the item. They then say they will send a courier to hand over the money and collect it.

A British reader living in France, who preferred not to be named, agreed to this when selling an item in a Facebook group, as it was too heavy to post.

“I had an email from UPS saying I must send €100 insurance. 

“I told the woman this was not right, but she said that I had started the transaction and if I didn’t pay, UPS would take me to court and I would be liable. I had another email from UPS stating this.

“I was so frightened that I paid up, but then she said I had taken so long to pay that the transaction had expired. 

“She said UPS couldn’t cancel the transaction and I would be taken to court so I paid another €100. Thinking this was now OK, 

I felt relieved, but the next day she said I needed to pay €500 for the European Union Tax or the court action would stand.”

That the emails were in French added to her panic, she said.

The emails will usually use the logo of UPS or another courier, but they do not come from the actual company.

UPS says it “does not request payments, personal information, financial information, account numbers, IDs, passwords, or copies of invoices in an unsolicited manner through email, mail, phone, or fax or specifically in exchange for the transportation of goods or services.”

2. Fake parcels

You might have received a text or email claiming to be from Colissimo or another delivery company, saying your parcel is en attente de livraison (waiting to be delivered), or a rencontré un problème lors de son acheminement (encountered a problem during delivery).

You are usually invited to click on a link, where it is hoped you will enter your personal details.

This is particularly common during sales or over Christmas, when people are expecting deliveries, but it happens year-round.

If you have any doubts, do not click on a link contained in a text, and contact the delivery company to check it came from them.

Read more: New scam alert in France over ‘Your parcel has been sent’ texts

3. Carte Vitale renewal

One of the most common scams in recent years involves text messages informing people their carte Vitale is about to expire or must be updated, inviting them to fill in a form. 

The link often sends them to a page where they are told to enter bank details and pay a small fee to receive a new card.

A carte Vitale never expires. It does need to be updated occasionally, but this is done at the pharmacy or doctor’s office. 

Assurance maladie will never send you a text asking you to update your card.

Read more: Millions in France targeted in ‘well executed’ carte Vitale text scam

4. Crit’air text messages

Another text informs people they do not have a Crit’Air (anti-pollution) certificate for their car, and must order one within 48 hours to avoid a fine, with a link to a website.

Earlier this year, the government warned the scam had been multiplying since late 2022.

“The official Crit’Air site does not send text messages to users to buy stickers,” the ecology ministry wrote. 

It added that the sticker never costs more than €3.72 for a French vehicle and that certificat-air.gouv.fr is the only official website.

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