Look before you scan – WKTN
Columbus, OH – (Aug 4, 2021) Businesses use QR codes to direct consumers to their apps, track packages, or view menus. But because these codes cannot be read by the human eye, they have become a way for crooks to conceal malicious links. As QR codes become more and more popular, BBB Scam Tracker is seeing more and more reports of scammers using them to deceive consumers.
How the scam works
You receive an email, direct message on social media, text, leaflet or letter containing a QR code. You are supposed to scan the code with your phone’s camera and it will open a link. In some scams, the QR code directs you to a phishing website, where you are asked to enter your personal information or login credentials for the crooks to steal. Other times, crooks use QR codes to automatically launch payment apps or track a malicious social network account.
These scams differ greatly, but they all have one thing in common. The crooks hope you scan the code right away, without taking a closer look. QR codes often appear to be from legitimate sources, so make sure any matches are legitimate before scanning the code.
For example, a victim told BBB Scam Tracker that she received a fraudulent letter regarding the student loan consolidation. It contained a QR code that appeared to link to the official Studentaid.gov site. The QR code helped the program, which was a fraud, to appear official.
How to avoid QR code scams:
If someone you know sends you a QR code, confirm it before scanning it. Whether you get a text from a friend or a social media message from your coworker, contact that person directly before scanning the QR code to make sure they haven’t been hacked.
Do not open stranger links. If you receive an unsolicited message from a stranger, do not scan the QR code, even if it promises you interesting gifts or investment opportunities.
Check the source. If a QR code appears to be from a trusted source, it’s wise to check it out. If correspondence appears to be from a government agency, call or visit their official website to confirm.
Beware of short links. If a shortened URL link appears when you scan a QR code, understand that you cannot know where the code is taking you. This could hide a malicious URL.
Beware of advertising media that have been falsified. Some scammers attempt to mislead consumers by modifying legitimate commercial advertisements by placing stickers or QR codes. Keep an eye out for signs of tampering.
.Install a QR scanner with extra security. Some antivirus companies have QR scanner apps that check the security of a scanned link before opening it. They can identify phishing scams, forced app downloads, and other dangerous links.
To learn more about protecting your information online, read BBB’s data privacy tips: https://www.bbb.org/article/tips/14023-bbb-tip-data-privacy?utm_source= newsletter & utm_medium = email & utm_content = tips% 20on% 20data% 20privacy & utm_campaign = scam-alert and cybersecurity: https://www.bbb.org/article/news-releases/23187-bbb-tip-cyber-security?utm_source=newsium_utmontent=newsium_utmontent&letter cyber% 20security & utm_campaign
If you’ve spotted a scam (whether or not you’ve lost money), report it to BBB.org/ScamTracker
Your report can help others avoid falling victim to scams.