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Protect Yourself From QR Code Scams

Qr Code on Screengrab

You’ve no doubt seen QR codes popping up almost everywhere. A QR code or quick response code is a barcode that you scan with a mobile device. With a quick scan of a QR code you can view a menu, make a payment, access tickets, and more. Many retailers make sales accessible through QR codes. While QR codes make payments and other information easily available, consumers should beware that scammers are hiding harmful fraudulent links within the codes. Here is some information about common scams, along with some tips to keep safe when utilizing QR codes.

During the holidays and heavy shopping seasons, scammers hide their fraudulent links in QR codes. Their goal is to trick people into giving up personal information, to steal money, to commit identity theft, to download malware, and to pull off phishing scams. Scammers will cover up legitimate QR codes with their own, or even send QR codes in text messages and emails luring people to visit their fake URLs. The fraudulent links send users to spoofed sites where scammers steal the information entered. Or it can install malware that will also steal information.

anonymous female employee with application on cellphone screen interacting with partner using tablet at counter in cafeteria

So how does one protect themselves? Well, here are a few suggestions:

  • Inspect all URLs before opening them.
  • If you receive an unexpected QR code in a text or email, don’t scan it.
  • Avoid scanning QR codes from questionable sources.
  • Keep your devices up-to-date.
  • Use strong passwords and multi-factor authentication. Multi-factor authentication is a security measure that requires a user to provide more than one verification factor for access.
  • Install security software on all devices.
  • Use antivirus software.
  • Watch for secure URLs, websites that begin with “https”, or that have the lock icon in the browser.
  • Never provide sensitive or personal information without doing research.
  • Don’t use unfamiliar apps.
  • Watch for spoofed websites or phishing schemes. Always check the source before proceeding.
  • Check reviews before downloading anything to your device.

Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) provides thousands of business reports that contain consumer reviews and complaints. Before you make a buying decision, check out the business with BCA. If you run into a scam or need to file a complaint, visit Follow Business Consumer Alliance on Facebook for additional consumer tips, scam alerts, and more.

About Business Consumer Alliance Business Consumer Alliance (BCA) is a non-profit company that started in 1928. The broad purpose of BCA is to promote business self-regulation. BCA's mission is achieved by assisting consumers in resolving complaints with businesses and using that complaint information, along with other relevant information such as customer reviews, to forecast business reliability. With community support, BCA can identify trustworthy and ethical businesses and warn the public to avoid unscrupulous businesses whose purpose is to defraud the marketplace. BCA also helps businesses promote themselves by providing services and tools to protect their business and reach out to their customers. BCA obtains its funding from member businesses who support the mission and purpose of the organization and who agree to abide by high standards of ethical business practices.