BRITS traveling to top holiday destinations have been warned they could be vulnerable to fraud under the new visa rules.
The EU has admitted its new European Travel Information and Authorization System (Etias) could be abused by scammers.
The rules are set to come into force in November 2023 and will require tourists from 60 countries, including the UK, to apply online for a visa exemption at least 96 hours before departure.
A permit is required to enter any of the 27 EU member states, including popular holiday destinations such as France, Spain and the Czech Republic.
However, new EU guidelines suggest companies could “engage in abusive practices” that defraud or even defraud customers.
The USA’s corresponding system, the Esta system, has historically been a breeding ground for a number of scams and rip-offs.
For example, many third-party websites legally offer to help travelers with applications, but charge high premiums for things like “document reviews.”
Although this is legal, many fraudulent websites offering the same service take customers’ money and give nothing back.
There are fears this could also happen with the Etias system, as the EU has announced it will allow third-party websites to sell, while admitting the process is open to exploitation.
The new passenger guide, seen by The Times, warns that there may be “attempts to make applicants believe their website is the official channel for submitting an Etias application”.
It adds: “This can create the false impression that the additional fee charged by the commercial intermediary is a mandatory part of the application process.”
The guidance also states that some websites “fraudulently use the personal or financial information provided by the applicant.”
Applications for the program are expected to open next summer, and numerous websites with “Etias” in their domain name have already been set up.
Guy Hobbs, editor of which? Travel, said: “The European Commission has promised that the vast majority of travelers will receive their Etias visa waiver within minutes, so travelers should be very wary of third-party websites promising to expedite applications for a fee.
“People should also ignore unsolicited phone calls or messages encouraging them to apply.”
The EU said passengers who are victims of fraud can report it on its website, but would not provide “remedies on an individual basis”.
The Etias application will be available on the official EU website and customers will only be charged for the application with no additional rewards.
https://www.thesun.co.uk/travel/20403804/urgent-scam-warning-brits-travelling-abroad-vulnerable-fraudsters/ Urgent scam warning for Brits travelling abroad as new rule could leave you vulnerable to fraudsters – don’t fall for it