Scammers typically send a QR code and ask people to scan it in order to receive money from them. When you scan the QR code, a large sum is deducted from your bank account. The fraudsters also gain access to your bank account information and use it to conduct multiple transactions later on.
How to avoid QR code scams?
Here are some guidelines for identifying and avoiding fraudulent QR code scams:
- Take your time. A QR code is a tool that encourages you to act quickly – QR stands for “quick response.” It works well for advertisers, but you should take your time and consider whether you need to scan the code and whether the information being requested is legitimate.
- After scanning the QR code, look at the domain address that appears at the top of the browser. When the domain does not match the organization that provided the code, this is a red flag that the website or app you’ve been directed to is a scam. If the QR code you scanned takes you to a suspicious website, close your browser window.
- Scanning a QR code that appears to be a sticker covering another QR code, such as an advertisement on the street, should be avoided. Scammers can print fake codes on stickers and stick them to legitimate advertisements.
- If you are uncertain about the legitimacy of the QR code, simply manually search for the website you require.
What Happens If a Fake QR Code Is Scanned?
There is no such thing as a “fake” QR code. The codes themselves are not dangerous; it is how they are used that can be dangerous.
A QR code does more than just point you to a website. Instead, scammers use QR codes in a variety of ways to steal your personal information or commit fraud:
- Scammers may direct you to a “phishing website,” which looks convincingly similar to what you expect and then requests sensitive information from you. However, any information you provide — name, contact information, credit card number — is sent to the scammer and can be used to steal your identity.
- Malware could infect your device. QR codes can also be used to download malicious software such as malware, ransomware, and trojans onto your device. These viruses have the ability to spy on you, steal your sensitive information or files (such as photos and videos), and even encrypt your device until you pay a “ransom.”
- The QR code may be used to send an email from your account. QR codes do more than just direct you to websites. The codes can also be programmed to open payment sites, follow social media accounts, and send pre-written emails. If you scan a malicious QR code, for example, it can compose and send an email from your account. Scammers can use QR codes in a variety of ways to carry out phishing attacks or potentially ruin your reputation.