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QR codes are dangerous in hands of scammer


Companies use QR codes to point consumers to their apps, track packages, or view menus. But because these codes can’t be read by the human eye, they have become a way for scammers to disguise malicious links.

As QR codes get more popular, the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker is seeing more reports of con artists using them to mislead consumers.

The Better Business Bureau serving the Pacific Southwest provides the following tips to avoid these potential scams.

How the Scam Works

You receive an email, direct message on social media, text message, flyer or a piece of mail that includes 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 takes you to a phishing website, where you are prompted to enter your personal information or login credentials for scammers to steal.

Other times, con artists use QR codes to automatically launch payment apps or follow a malicious social media account.

These scams differ greatly, but they all have one thing in common.

Scammers hope you will scan the code right away, without taking a closer look. QR codes often appear to come from legitimate sources, so make sure any correspondence is legitimate before you scan the code.

How to Avoid QR Scams

If someone you know sends you a QR code, also confirm before scanning it.

Whether you receive a text message from a friend or a message on social media from your workmate, contact that person directly before you scan the QR code to make sure they haven’t been hacked.

Don’t open links from strangers. If you receive an unsolicited message from a stranger, don’t scan the QR code.

Verify the source. If a QR code appears to come from a reputable source, it’s wise to double check.

Be wary of short links. If a URL-shortened link appears when you scan a QR code, understand that you can’t know where the code is directing you.

Watch out for advertising materials that have been tampered with.

Some scammers attempt to mislead consumers by altering legitimate business ads by placing stickers or the QR code.

Install a QR scanner with added security. Some antivirus companies have QR scanner apps that check the safety of a scanned link before you open it. —from the Better Business Bureau

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