QR codes have become a major feature of daily life post-pandemic. They are used for everything from providing menus to customers at restaurants to helping offer discount codes and rebates to directing customers to websites to buy products.
QR codes have been around for a very long time, but there were not used to direct people to websites and products in the past and were instead used to help track inventory and purchasing behavior of consumers. Now that QR codes have begun to be used everywhere, these useful items have begun to be used by those committing fraud. This means you need to know what QR fraud is and how to keep yourself safe.
What is QR Code Fraud?
There are different types of QR code fraud, and ExpressVPN revealed that the absence of central authority surrounding the authorization of QR codes makes them highly susceptible at this time to many kinds of fraud.
The most basic form of QR code fraud is using a QR code to send consumers to a site that is intended to steal information and not to offer access to products or other information. These pages will often ask you to input a variety of personal information to access them, and this is how fraudsters get ahold of your personal information.
Another means of using QR codes to commit fraud is to use a QR code to send someone to a “payment” site to allow them to buy an item. This site will collect credit card information and details, and then fraudsters will use this information to make unauthorized purchases with the credit card they have gained access to.
Yet another QR code fraud scam is providing a QR code that contains a virus. This virus can then insert malware into the device that scanned the code, which can track clicks and interactions done on the device to capture passwords and other details about someone’s personal information. This simple keylogger attack has not worked well in other avenues for some time but is ideal for insertion into QR codes.
These kinds of fraudulent codes can be used in online marketplaces or can be made to look like they are sending you to a recognized site for a major corporation. QR codes are still a new enough technology to many people that these kinds of fraud are hard for consumers to detect.
How Can I Protect Myself from QR Code Fraud?
If you are worried about how to recognize fraudulent QR codes, you are not alone! Every time a new piece of technology is introduced, it is susceptible to this kind of attack, and consumers need to be educated on the right methods to recognize fraud so that they do not become victims of these attacks. QR code fraud can be recognized, and you can make sure that you don’t fall prey to this common kind of fraud just by educating yourself.
1. Contact the Company Directly
If you are sent a QR code, and you do not have a good feeling about using it, just call the company that supposedly sent it to you and ask to make a payment while on the phone with someone. You can also avoid using these kinds of codes to buy products by just reaching out to the company on the phone or by paying within the site itself.
As with other kinds of malware and phishing attacks, you should be cautious about interacting with any link that redirects you to another online location.
2. Check the Link
If you hover over a link that you have been provided with, you can see what the end of the link looks like. Be suspicious of QR code links with lots of random characters and numbers in them that do not contain the name of the company that supposedly sent you the QR code. This is a key aspect of identifying other kinds of phishing and malware attacks, and you can use it to protect yourself from QR code fraud as well.
3. Don’t Use QR Codes for Payment or Receipt of Money
You should never use QR codes for payment or for receipt of any funds from anyone. This is one of the most common kinds of fraud using QR codes, and it is best to just avoid this activity at all costs. There are many other ways to transfer and receive money that can be done through a recognized banking site. You do not need to interact with a QR code in order to be paid for something or to give some money to a friend.
4. Trust Your Gut
If something about the QR code or the site feels wrong, trust your instincts. It is always better to be sure that you do not interact with any site or person online that you have a bad feeling about. This is a great way to protect yourself from fraud of various kinds, as your instincts about this kind of situation are usually better than you might think.
QR Code Fraud is On the Rise, But You Can be Prepared
Being an informed consumer can help you to avoid all kinds of fraudulent activities. Scammers are everywhere these days, and they often victimize those shopping or interacting with businesses online. You can ensure that you have the skills to recognize these attacks so that you don’t join the group of people each year who are impacted by fraud.
QR code fraud doesn’t have to be hard to recognize if you just make sure not to trust any links or codes that seem not to navigate to the correct site or that are asking for information that seems like it’s too detailed or personal to be required for the task at hand. Make sure that you pay attention to how you interact with QR codes, and you should have no trouble avoiding this kind of fraud in your online interactions.