Scammers taking advantage of QR codes to steal information, money from people

Investigators

RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – A form of touchless communication that’s becoming more popular with business is also becoming more popular with scammers who’ve found a way to use it to steal a victim’s money or personal information.

QR codes are convenient and everywhere these days. People need to be careful about where they point their phones because scammers have turned some of these codes into crooked codes.

“They are a really popular way to get sensitive information or to send consumers to a really bad website that contains malware,” said Alyssa Parker of the Better Business Bureau of Eastern North Carolina.

Scanning a QR code is like clicking a link on the internet. It exposes a person to the same dangers of criminal hacking.

Parker said “HTTPS” or the lock icon can be seen on a normal website, indicating safety, but QR codes all look the same.

For consumers, the big question is how to differentiate.

“Make sure you see the whole URL that it directs you to,” Parker said. “Short links are definitely a red flag.”

That’s because short links can hide where the QR code is really directing to. It could be disguising a malicious site. 

Also, be wary of QR codes posted in public places. 

“Scammers can put stickers over legitimate QR codes,” Parker said. 

To avoid being a victim of a QR code scam: 

  • Be wary of QR codes posted in public places 
  • Never scan a QR code box stuck to a wall or floor 
  • Don’t scan any QR code that’s on a sticker 

Instead of using a phone’s camera to scan a QR code and go to a link, get a QR scanner app with a security feature. It will check it for suspicious content. 

To ensure it does that, check the description of the app’s features to make sure it approves websites before visiting them. 

If you get a QR code supposedly from a friend, stop and first check with that friend first. See if they really sent it to you because they may have been hacked. 

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