(Published on February 09, 2023 by the Direction de l’information légale et administrative (Prime Minister) and translated by P-O Life
SMS scams in France…
For some time now, SMS scams have been on the increase and are increasingly difficult to identify as many of them are very professional and often cleverly linked to something that we might be waiting for, have researched, have applied for…..
Of course, we all know that these multiple scam attempts have only one goal: to obtain your personal and banking data. In fact, we all know it – yet it’s amazing how so many of us still get caught out!
Here are some of the most recent with advice to help you to avoid being caught out. They are the most recent to be listed in France, but I’m sure the same type of thing is going on in the UK.
Scammers have become particularly good at impersonating administrative sites and stealing the identity of certain public services.
Late payment of a fine
In a recent scam, the scammers pose as the l’Agence nationale de traitement automatisé des infractions (Antai). Fraudulent text messages mention late payment for a fine and try to recover your personal information or bank details. The principle is simple.
The SMS makes out that the recipient has a “late payment of a fine”, the message is followed by a link leading to a fraudulent site like “amene-gouv.org”, “dossier-antai- gouv.info”, etc. Attention! If you click on this link, you can transmit your personal information.
The Antai reminds you that any SMS can only be sent out by them in the presence of a law enforcement officer, and that there is only one site for paying fines: amendes.gouv.fr.
Basically, any SMS demanding payment is a scam. The Antai recommends not to click on any link. Bear in mind too that these mails often have UNSUBSCRIBE buttons….that will also take you to the scam site. Don’t click, BIN!
Another common scam is to send an SMS inviting the user to claim a fuel allowance. The scammer sends a message that suggests clicking on a link to claim that €100 boost. In reality, the scammers are usurping the identity of the Direction Générale des Finances Publiques (DGFIP), who warn users that the only way to obtain this aid is to go to the impots.gouv.fr website, fill out the form yourself by entering your tax number and that of your license plate. registration and to certify by a “sworn statement” that you must use your car to get to your place of work. FIND OUT MORE
The DGFIP never sends SMS to promote the fuel allowance.
The Ministère de la Transition écologique et de la Cohésion des territoires also recommends vigilance, in particular for Crit’air vignettes.
The Crit’air air quality certificate is a sticker to stick on your windshield. It is mandatory if you drive in zones à faibles émissions (ZFE) or during a pollution peak. It costs €3.72. To obtain it, simply connect to the only official site.
The ministry’s official Crit’Air site does not send SMS messages to users to buy vignettes, nor does the government, the Ministry of Ecological Transition or the Prefecture..
How to recognise a scam?
Scams are increasingly difficult to spot: no spelling mistakes, a site very close to the real thing, visual codes from the government… The only difference that is easy to identify lies in the link address (url) at the top, as it probably won’t be consistent with that of the real official website…..’tho don’t always count on it: these thieves are clever guys and gals!
On the whole, any ministry site that does not end with “gouv.fr” should alert you. You can also check the mention “https” in the address of the site. Before making any payment for an administrative procedure, check the identity of the site and its legal notices.
Follow the recommendations of the Commission nationale informatique et liberté (CNIL). There is an English option on the site but the best info is in French.
- Warning: No administration will ever ask you for your bank details or your passwords by e-mail or by telephone.
- Never communicate sensitive information by email or telephone.
What to do if you are the victim of an online scam?
- You can forward the message to 33 700, the voice and SMS spam reporting platform.
- Report to the site internet-signalement.gouv.fr, the platform of the Central Office for the Fight against Crime Related to Information Technology.
- Visit cybermalveillance.gouv.fr, national platform for assistance to victims of cyber-malicious acts. It provides information on digital threats and ways to protect against them.
- Alert the Direction générale de la de la concurrence, de la consommation et de la répression des fraudes (DGCCRF), which sanctions breaches or violations of consumer law. You can also report an abuse on SignalConso by selecting the “Administrative procedures” section.