Requesting a civil status certificate, driving license, making your license plate… Today, many administrative procedures are just a click away thanks to online forms.
But here it is: ill-intentioned people take advantage of this to develop fraudulent sites where they charge for formalities that are however free. This is the alarm bell sounded by the Directorate General for Competition, Consumer Affairs and Fraud Prevention (DGCCRF) in a report published on November 21, 2022.
During an investigation carried out in 2020, the DGCCRF inspected around forty establishments in the form of websites via visits and control actions. “25 did not comply with the regulations and a large majority tried to deceive the consumer”, reports the administration of the Ministry of the Economy.
Logos, graphic charter, reference to ministries… Many commercial companies make sure to assimilate their site to official platforms to trap consumers. The latter “buy referencing from search engines to be at the top of the results and thus attract Internet users”, assures the DGCCRF.
If these techniques are not illegal, they are considered misleading and, therefore, liable to a fine. In practice, nothing prohibits a professional from charging for assistance with the administrative process… Provided that the identity of the service provider is not such as to mislead the client.
The official website of the Ministry of the Economy advises as follows: “To avoid any confusion, check the Internet address (URL) of the site: the URLs of the French administration invariably end in ‘.gouv.fr’ or ‘.fr ‘ and never by ‘.gouv.org’, ‘.gouv.com’ or ‘-gouv.fr’ A site in ‘.fr’ does not necessarily guarantee that it is an official site and the company who operates it may not be established in France”.