How to avoid a QR code scam

Have you ever encountered a QR code scam?

QR codes have become increasingly popular in recent years, with more and more businesses and organizations using them to share information and streamline processes.

However, as with any technology, there are potential risks associated with QR codes, including scams and fraud. 

These scams can range from phishing attempts to malware infections, and it is essential to be aware of these risks and take steps to protect yourself. 

But fear not. You can protect yourself from the dangers of QR code scams and fraud and still use QR codes with confidence.

This article will explore the basics of QR codes, common scams and associated frauds, and tips for staying safe when using them. 

QR code 101: what are they, and how do they work?

QR codes are two-dimensional barcodes you can scan using a smartphone or QR code scanner. 

They contain website URLs, contact information, or other data that users can easily access by scanning the code. 

QR codes have become increasingly popular in various industries, including retail, marketing, and transportation. For a safe QR code experience, consider use the free QR code generator to secure your private information. 

Plus, there are several different QR codes, each with specific use cases. Some of the most common types include:

URL QR codes

Users can scan these codes to open a specific website or webpage. Businesses often use them to lead users to their websites, where they promote thru QR code for product and service launches.

vCard QR codes

A vCard QR code can contain contact information such as phone numbers, email addresses, and social media profiles.

It allows users to store a person’s contact information directly in their phone’s contact in just one scan.

Payment QR codes

Users can scan these codes to make payments or transfer money. China, for example, uses QR codes as a standard way of paying.

You can find a contactless payment QR code at department malls, restaurants, and even at markets and small retailers.

Social Media QR codes

A social media QR code directs users to a landing page containing all your social media profiles.

These codes make it easy for users to follow or connect with a business or individual on social media.

They can simply scan the code rather than manually search for the account or page.

Common QR code scams and frauds

There are several different types of scams and frauds associated with QR codes. Here are some of the most common ones:

Phishing attempts

Scammers may create fake QR codes that, when scanned, take users to a phony website or login page that looks like a legitimate site. 

They use this information to steal personal information or login credentials.

Malware infections

Some scammers may create QR codes that, when scanned, download malware onto the user’s device. 

This malware can steal personal information or access sensitive data.

Fake payment QR codes

These types of scams are common in China, where scammers create fake QR codes that look like they are for a legitimate business or service. 

When users scan the code and make a payment, the money goes to the scammer instead of the intended recipient.

Fake offers or discounts

Scammers may create QR codes that, when scanned, lead users to fake offers or discounts that do not exist. 

They may also use these codes to collect personal information or sell counterfeit products.

Unwanted subscriptions

Some scammers may create QR codes that sign users up for unwanted subscriptions or services. 

They may also use these codes to collect personal information or charge for services, even though the user did not request or avail of them.

It’s essential to be aware of these potential scams and frauds and take steps to protect yourself when using QR codes. 

It’s always a good idea to verify the authenticity of a QR code before scanning it. Always take precautions such as not providing personal or financial information when prompted or if the website or link looks suspicious.

How to protect yourself from QR code scams and frauds

Here are some tips and best practices for avoiding scams and fraud when using QR codes:

1. Verify the authenticity of the QR code:

Before scanning a QR code, check to make sure it is legitimate. Ensure that the code is from a trusted source and that the website or link it leads to is safe for browsing.

You can run the link first through a website checker to see if it contains any malicious content or security threats.

2. Be wary of suspicious QR codes

Be wary of QR codes in unexpected or unusual locations that look like they have tampered. If the QR code feels off, it’s best not to scan it.

If you encounter a suspicious QR code, report it to the appropriate authorities.

3. Do not provide personal information

When prompted, don’t provide personal information such as your name, address, phone number, or financial information. You need to verify the website’s authenticity first before doing so.

Where to report QR code scams and fraud? 

Here are some resources for reporting and dealing with QR code scams and frauds:

Federal Trade Commission (FTC)

The FTC is a government agency that investigates consumer complaints and takes action against fraud, scams, and other deceptive business practices. 

Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3)

The IC3 is a partnership between the FBI and the National White Collar Crime Center that investigates Internet-related crimes, including scams and frauds. 

Better Business Bureau (BBB)

The BBB is a nonprofit organization that helps consumers and businesses resolve disputes and promotes ethical business practices. 

National Cyber-Forensics and Training Alliance (NCFTA)

The NCFTA is a nonprofit organization that provides training, education, and support for law enforcement agencies, businesses, and other organizations. They have a reporting mechanism for online scams and frauds.

The need for continued awareness of using QR codes

It’s important to remember that scammers are constantly finding new ways to trick people, and new types of scams are constantly emerging. 

You can confidently protect yourself and use QR codes by being vigilant and aware.

QR codes are a powerful tool that can make our lives easier. Still, it’s essential to be aware of the potential risks and take steps to protect yourself when using them. 

Following the advice in this article, you can use QR codes confidently and stay safe from scams and fraud.