I hired a car in France recently. When I returned home I was told by the car rental company that I had committed a parking offence. I have no recollection of this happening but I have now received an email (in France) which apparently says I can deal with the fine via email. If not I can receive details in the post. Nowhere does it say what I was supposed to have done, where it took place or how much the fine is.

Has anyone else experienced this rather strange way of dealing with parking offences in France?

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    It's indeed unusual. Typically, you would get some details and be invited to pay through a website, not by email. Who sent the email (organisation/domain name)? Where have you been in France (Paris/elsewhere)? – Relaxed Aug 25 '19 at 17:15
  • For example, in Paris, you can pay a reduced fee if you pay directly with the municipality within four days. After that, you have to go through a national website, which is supposed to be the only one tasked with collecting fines. – Relaxed Aug 25 '19 at 17:22
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    Also, did your car hire agency charge you for that? In my experience, they charge €30-40 as administrative fee on the credit card you used during the rental. If that hasn't happened, the whole thing is possibly a scam. If they did charge you, they should also be able to provide some details as they would have received an official notice. – Relaxed Aug 25 '19 at 17:26
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    Is the email specific enough to identify a particular municipality, date and time, and were you there at those times? I am highly suspicious of this email. Can you contact the local municipality and ask them (DO NOT DO NOT use contact information provided in the email!!!! Research their official contact points listed in a government website, or just visit.) – Harper - Reinstate Monica Aug 25 '19 at 17:47

It is not unusual to be told by your rental company that you have to pay a traffic fine. Tickets are usually charged to car owners (meaning the rental company), and the rental company is allowed to pass the charge on to you. They may have paid the fine and require you to pay them back.

If the email is really from a reputable rental company they are unlikely to be scamming you (other than perhaps adding a processing charge which you probably agreed to in the fine print). That said it is wise to be cautious. Contact the rental company at an address/phone number that you know to be correct. Check the email was from them. (Though a scammer who knows you rented a car in France through that company already knows a scary amount about you) Ask for details of the offence, and to see a copy of the ticket. You should be able to verify that it is at least somewhere where you were. You may be able to verify that the ticket is real on the appropriate municipality web site.

If you couldn't have been at the place the offence was committed then just decline be to pay. But other than that it's probably not worth fighting.

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    "Contact the rental company at an address/phone number that you know to be correct." – This is important advice, not just for this instance, but in general. If you have suspicions about the origin of some communication, contact the sender the communication is claiming to have originated with by using a contact that the scammer could not possibly have manipulated. E.g. if the email is claiming to come from Hertz, do not use any contact numbers from within the email, instead go to your local Hertz dealer and ask them to look up the number for you or connect you directly (or just use Google). – Jörg W Mittag Aug 26 '19 at 10:04

If while having that rental car in France you noticed a ticket installed on your windshield then you have the exact info. Otherwise just report to your credit card bank, an unauthorised charge to my credit card overseas and let them handle the rest.

  • If OP has parked where they should not have and gets a ticket for it, they should pay the fine and often in the car rental agreement you allow for fines being taken from the same card number. – Willeke Aug 26 '19 at 15:39

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