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LIVING IN FRANCE

Warning issued over French carte vitale scams

Residents of France who are registered in the French health system have been targeted in a scam relating to the carte vitale health card.

Warning issued over French carte vitale scams
Photo by DENIS CHARLET / AFP

Scams arriving via email or text message are unfortunately a part of live in France, but the latest one doing the rounds relates to the carte vitale – the vital card for accessing State healthcare.

Numerous residents of France report being targeted by messages telling them either that their card needed renewing, or that their new card was ready and including a website link to click on.

The link then asked for credit card details to cover the cost of postage – these messages are not legitimate.

The French state health system Assurance maladie has issued a warning about this and similar scams, warning that you should never give out personal details such as ID, bank details or social security number over email or SMS.

Because the French health system works on a reimbursement model – you pay upfront for medical appointments and prescriptions and then the money is fully or partially reimbursed straight into your bank account – Assurance maladie already has bank details for registered users and will never need to ask for them. 

A spokesman said: “Assurance Maladie never asks for personal information (medical information, social security number or bank details) by e-mail outside the secure space of the Ameli account.

“All messages of this type are attempts at ‘phishing’.”

Renewing a carte vitale

The carte vitale allows you to access French state-funded healthcare, and if you have been a full-time resident in France for more than three months you are entitled to apply for one – here’s how.

Once you have the card, it does not need to be regularly renewed so there should be no need to apply for a new one.

If your card has been damaged, lost or stolen, you can request a new one be sent out. The simplest way to do this is via your online Ameli account – if you don’t have one, here’s how that works – or by contacting your local CPAM office by phone or in person. There is no charge for a new card to be sent out.

If you haven’t used your card for more than a year – ie you have had no doctor’s appointments, medical treatments or pharmacy prescriptions – you may be asked to reactivate the card, you can do this at a borne (card reader machine) in a pharmacy, or ask your pharmacist or doctor to do it for you. This does not require a new card.

If you’re travelling to another EU country you will need a Carte européenne d’assurance maladie (CEAM) in order to ensure that any medical treatment you need while abroad will be covered. These are also sent out free of charge, but the cards only last for two years and – annoyingly – there is no reminder sent out when your card expires, so it’s up to you to remember to order a new one.

Like the carte vitale, you can order one via Amelie or your local CPAM office. 

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FOOD & DRINK

Kinder pulls 3,000 tonnes of products after salmonella cases

Children in nine European countries, including 81 in France, were affected

Kinder pulls 3,000 tonnes of products after salmonella cases

More than 3,000 tonnes of Kinder products have been withdrawn from the market over salmonella fears leaving a dent of tens of millions of euros, a company official has told France’s Le Parisien.

Nicolas Neykov, the head of Ferrero France, said the contamination came “from a filter located in a vat for dairy butter”, at a factory in Arlon in Belgium.

He said the contamination could have been caused by humans or raw materials.

Chocolate products made at the factory in Arlon, southeastern Belgium, were found to contain salmonella, resulting in 150 cases in nine European countries.

Eighty-one of these were in France, mainly affecting children under 10 years old.

The factory’s closure and the health concerns were blows to its owner, Italian confectionery giant Ferrero, coming at the height of the Easter holiday season when its Kinder chocolates are sought-after supermarket buys.

“This crisis is heartbreaking. It’s the biggest removal of products in the last 20 years,” Neykov said.

But the company hoped to be able to start up the factory again, with 50 percent of health and safety inspections to be carried out by an approved “external laboratory” in the future, instead of the previous system of only internal reviews.

“We have asked for a reopening from June 13 to relaunch production as soon as possible,” he added.

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