NEW visa rules for Brits who travel to top tourist destinations warn them that they might be susceptible to scams.
The EU admitted that its European Travel Information and Authorisation System, (Etias), scheme could be misused by fraudsters.
The new rules will take effect in November 2023. It will require that tourists from 60 countries (including the UK) apply online for a visa exemption at least 96hrs before they depart.
To enter any one of the 27 EU member states, including popular tourist destinations such as France, Spain, and the Czech Republic, you will need to be approved.
New EU guidance suggests companies could be subject to new EU guidelines. “engage in abusive practices”Customers may be conned or defrauded.
The Esta system in the USA has been the breeding ground of many scams and ripoffs.
Third-party websites, for example, offer to help holidaymakers fill out applications but charge substantial premiums for document checks.
This is legal. However, scam websites offering similar services take customers’ money and offer nothing in return.
This could also happen to the Etias system, since the EU has announced that they will allow third-party websites to sell it. However, it admits that the process is vulnerable to exploitation.
The new passenger guidance system, as seen by The Times, warns of the possibility “attempts to mislead applicants into believing that their site is the official channel for submitting an Etias application”.
It adds: “This may give the false impression that the additional fee charged by the commercial intermediary is a mandatory part of the application process.”
This guidance also mentions that some sites might make “fraudulent use of the personal or financial data provided by the applicant”.
Applications for the scheme are expected open next summer. Numerous websites will also be available. “Etias”Already set up in their domain names.
Guy Hobbs, editor at Which? According to Guy Hobbs, Which?’s editor, Travel: “The European Commission promised that the vast majority (of travellers) will receive their Etias Visa waiver in minutes. So travellers should be wary of any third-party websites promising to speed up applications for a fee.
“People should also ignore unsolicited calls or messages inviting them to apply.”
EU claimed that victims of frauds would be able to report the incident on their website. But, they refused to provide this service. “remedies in individual cases”.
The Etias Application will be available on EU’s official website. Customers will be charged only for the application with no additional premiums.