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What to do if you have fallen victim to a scam in France

We've all done it - clicked on the link or handed over personal details before realising that it's a scam. But if you've fallen victim to scammers, what steps should you take next to make sure your personal data is protected?

What to do if you have fallen victim to a scam in France
Photo: Pickawood / Unsplash

It’s unfortunately a fact of life in France to regularly receive scam emails, texts or calls purporting to be from the bank, your energy supplier, La Poste, Ameli, the tax office or any number of legitimate operators. Even law enforcement bodies have been copied and used in scams.

Over the years, we’ve reported regularly on online scams.

The standard advice to avoid falling victim to these criminal attempts to steal personal information involves being ever-vigilant by carefully checking any emails, texts, or notifications for errors or inconsistencies which may reveal its fraudulent nature – such as the address of the sender, or weird typography, poor spelling.

READ ALSO Common scams to beware of in France

If in doubt, the advice runs, do not click any links, and remember you can always call the organisation from which the message purports to originate to check whether they really have tried to contact you.

And that’s all good advice.

But some of the scams appear very convincing and people do fall for them – if you’re busy or distracted it’s all too easy to click on a link without really thinking.

What can you do then?

If you have shared your bank details, you should contact your bank as soon as possible. Be honest, tell them you think you have been the victim of a scam and they will help you. You can cancel your card, and block unauthorised withdrawals. 

It all takes a bit of time, sorting out a new card and so on, but safeguarding your money means criminals can’t empty your account.

If you haven’t shared your bank details then things are less urgent, but there are still steps that you can take to protect your personal data.

French data protection laws mean that if your details have been compromised as part of a hack, you have to be informed, so from time to time you might get a scary-sounding letter telling you that some of your details were compromised, usually as part of a hack of a big company or government database.

The best place to get advice is the government’s anti-scam website (www.cybermalveillance.gouv.fr).

The site has a ‘diagnostic’ where you can fill in a form explaining what has happened to you, and it will then offer tailored advice depending on the kind of scam you have fallen victim to.

It can also help find a local, approved, professional if you need any additional help – though you may be charged for that. 

Depending on the type of scam, the advice may include going to the police or gendarmerie to file a formal complaint. This is up to you, but if you’re nervous of trying to navigate the policing system, you can call victim support service France Victimes on 116 006 (freephone) for help.

You can also report online scams or illegal content on the internet at Pharos, the government’s official portal for reporting illegal internet content.

In-person scams

The most common scam types are via email, text or phone call, with the scammers targeting your personal data.

But there are people who try out in-person scams to relieve you of your cash too, and these are particularly common in tourist hotspots.

In addition to the standard pickpockets, tourist sites are often infested with tricksters running fake games, selling counterfeit goods or even women flashing their breasts to distract men who are using ATMs (yes, that does happen).

READ ALSO The tricks thieves use to take your money

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TRAVEL NEWS

Covid rules: Travelling abroad from France this summer

There's been plenty written on travel rules for people coming to France - but what if you live in France and have plans for international travel over the coming months? We've got you covered.

Covid rules: Travelling abroad from France this summer

France isn’t currently on the Covid red list for any country, so there is nowhere that is barred to you as a French resident, but different countries still have different entry requirements.

EU/Schengen zone

If you’re travelling to a country that is within the EU or Schengen zone then it’s pretty straightforward.

If you’re fully vaccinated then all you need is proof of vaccination at the border – no need for Covid tests or extra paperwork. Bear in mind, however, that if your second dose was more than nine months ago you will need a booster shot in order to still be considered ‘fully vaccinated’. 

READ ALSO Everything you need to know about travel to France from within the EU

If you were vaccinated in France then you will have a QR code compatible with all EU/Schengen border systems. If you were vaccinated elsewhere, however, your home country’s vaccination certificate will still be accepted.

If you’re not fully vaccinated you will need to show a negative Covid test at the border, check the individual country for requirements on how recent the test needs to be.

Bear in mind also that several EU countries still have mask/health pass rules in place and some countries specify the type of mask required, for example an FFP2 mask rather than the surgical mask more common in France. Check the rules of the country that you are travelling to in advance.

If you’re travelling to a country covered by The Local, you can find all the latest Covid rules in English on the homepages for Austria, Denmark, Germany, Italy, Norway, Spain, Sweden or Switzerland.

UK

The UK has no Covid-related travel rules, so there is no requirement for tests even if you are not vaccinated. The passenger locator form has also been scrapped – full details HERE.

Once there, there are no Covid-related health rules in place. 

If you’re travelling between France and the UK, remember the extra restrictions in place since Brexit.

USA 

Unlike the EU, the USA still has a testing requirement in place, vaccinated or not. You would need to show this prior to departure.

It has, however, lifted the restrictions on non citizens entering, so travel to the USA for tourism and visiting friends/family is once again possible.

For full details on the rules, click HERE.

Once there, most places have lifted Covid-related rules such as mask requirements, but health rules are decided by each State, rather than on a national level, so check in advance with the area you are visiting.

Other non-EU countries

Most non-EU countries have also lifted the majority of their Covid related rules, but in certain countries restrictions remain, such as in New Zealand which is reopening its border in stages and at present only accepts certain groups.

Other countries also have domestic Covid restrictions in place, particularly in China which has recently imposed a strict local lockdown after a spike in cases.

Returning to France

Once your trip is completed you will need to re-enter France and the border rules are the same whether you live here or not.

If you’re fully vaccinated you simply need to show your vaccination certificate (plus obviously passport and residency card/visa if applicable) at the border.

If you’re not vaccinated you will need to get a Covid test before you return and present the negative result at the border – the test must be either a PCR test taken within the previous 72 hours or an antigen test taken within the previous 48 hours. Home-test kits are not accepted.

If you’re returning from an ‘orange list’ country and you’re not vaccinated you will need to provide proof of your ‘essential reasons’ to travel – simply being a resident is classed as an essential reason, so you can show your carte de séjour residency card, visa or EU passport at the border.

Even if the country that you are in is reclassified as red or orange while you are away, you will still be allowed back if you are a French resident. If you’re not a French passport-holder, it’s a good idea to take with you proof of your residency in France, just in case.

Fully vaccinated

France counts as ‘fully vaccinated’ those who:

  • Are vaccinated with an EMA-approved vaccine (Pfizer, Moderna, AstraZeneca or Johnson & Johnson)
  • Are 7 days after their final dose, or 28 days in the case of the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccines
  • Have had a booster shot if more than 9 months has passed since the final dose of your vaccine. If you have had a booster shot there is no need for a second one, even if more than 9 months has passed since your booster
  • Mixed dose vaccines (eg one Pfizer and one Moderna) are accepted 
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