QR codes have become very common. You see them on everything from restaurant menus to posters and online ads. They make it easy to open links, access discounts, or view videos just by scanning them with your phone.

However, as QR codes become more popular, they’ve also caught the attention of scammers. These criminals make fake QR codes that can steal your information, infect your device with viruses, or trick you into sending money.

It’s important to be careful when scanning any QR code because of these new scams. Always make sure the QR code is from a trusted source before scanning.

QR Codes Are Back in Style

Originally created to track parts in the automotive industry, QR codes have made a big comeback and are now widely used in marketing. They provide instant access to information with just a quick scan, becoming a staple in retail, hospitality, and more.

However, with their rise in popularity, cyber-criminals have also taken notice. A new type of phishing scam has emerged that takes advantage of the trust people have in QR codes.

Understanding QR Code Scams

So how does it work? Basically, scammers print fake QR codes and stick them over real ones. For our example, imagine seeing one on a poster offering a product discount or promoting a movie.

When you scan the QR code thinking it’s real, it will take you to a fake website—one that looks real, but is owned by the hackers. Posing as a legitimate page, and taking advantage of your trust, the site then asks for sensitive information like your credit card details or login info.

Alternatively, the QR code might trick you into downloading a harmful app loaded with malware. This malware can:

  • Spy on what you do on your device
  • Access your clipboard where you might have saved sensitive data
  • Get into your contacts list
  • Lock your device and demand a ransom to unlock it

The point is, there’s several ways that hackers exploit QR codes. But there’s three main tactics you can be alert for:

Altered QR Codes:

Cyber-criminals sometimes tamper with legitimate QR codes by placing a fake QR code sticker on top of a real one. These fake codes either contain harmful content or redirect you to scam websites.

Deceptive Promotions:

Scammers also create their own QR codes for bogus promotions or contests. When you scan such a code, it might take you to a fake website that asks for your personal details. This can lead to identity theft or financial fraud.

Malware Risks:

Some hackers even design QR codes to download malware directly onto your device when scanned. This malware can steal your personal information, damage your device, or both.

How to Avoid Scams While Scanning QR Codes

So what can we do about it? How do we reduce our risk and avoid scams when we have to scan QR codes?

Check the Source:

Always be careful when scanning QR codes, especially from unknown or untrusted sources. Make sure the QR code and where it came from are legitimate, especially if it asks for personal information.

Use a Secure QR Code Scanner App:

Think about using a specific QR code scanner app instead of your device’s default camera app. Some third-party scanner apps offer additional security features like analyzing the code and checking the website’s reputation before accessing it.

Check the URL Carefully:

Before you visit a website from a QR code, double-check the URL to make sure it’s correct and matches the expected website.

Don’t Scan Suspicious QR Codes:

If something seems off about a QR code—whether it’s appearance or location—don’t scan it. Trust your gut. Scammers often count on your curiosity to make their schemes work.

Keep Your Devices Updated:

Make sure your phone and all relevant apps are up-to-date. Updates often include security enhancements that protect you from new threats.

Be Careful with Websites from QR Codes:

Never input personal information on a website you reached through a QR code. This includes your address, credit card details, or login credentials. Also, avoid making payments or donations via these links. Always use secure and trusted payment methods.

Get Help with Phishing-Resistant Security Solutions

QR codes are convenient and interesting, but they can also be risky. Always be cautious when scanning them to avoid falling for QR code scams designed to exploit your curiosity.

Remember, these QR code scams are a type of phishing, which is a significant threat today, both for individuals and businesses. You need to make sure your devices can withstand phishing attempts, and we’re here to help.

Reach out to us today to find out more!

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