QR Codes Are Being Used for Phishing Scams

April 15, 2024

QR codes have become common in our society. They are on many things, like menus, flyers, and posters. They are used online and offline. QR codes are easy and convenient to use. You just scan them with your phone camera. Then you go to a link, a coupon, a video, or some other online content.

But QR codes also have a dark side. Cybercriminals make fake QR codes and use this technology for evil purposes. Fake codes can get your personal information. They can also infect your device with malware or trick you into paying money.

You need to be careful when you scan QR codes. This scam highlights the potential hazards associated with these seemingly innocent squares.

How QR Codes Came Back

QR codes were first made for tracking car parts. They have become popular again recently. And are now used for marketing. They are important for different industries, like retail and hospitality.

Sadly, cybercriminals are quick to change. And they use QR codes for their phishing scams.

How the Scam Happens

The scammer makes a fake QR code. They put it over a real one. For example, on a poster that advertises a product discount or a menu.

You scan the fake QR code, thinking it's real. The fake code may take you to a phishing website. These sites may ask you to enter private data like your credit card details, login credentials, or other personal information. Or scanning the QR code may make you download a bad app. One that has malware that can do one or more of these:

  • Watch your activity
  • Access your contacts
  • Access your copy/paste history
  • Lock your device for a ransom

The code might also redirect you to a payment page that prompts you to pay for something that is supposed to be free.

Some common QR code scam tactics include:

Malicious Code

Cybercriminals alter real QR codes adding a fake QR code sticker over a real one. They put bad content or redirect users to fake websites.

False Contests and Promotions

Scammers use QR codes to trick users into false promotions or contests. When users scan the code, it takes them to a fake website. The website may prompt them to give personal information which can can lead to identity theft or financial fraud.

Malware Proliferation

Some bad QR codes start downloads of malware onto the user's device which leads to security problems like unauthorized access to personal data and potential harm to the device's function.

Smart Tips for Safe QR Code Scanning

Check the Source

Be careful when scanning QR codes from unknown or untrusted sources. This is especially true if the scan prompts you to enter personal information.

Use a QR Code Scanner App

Think about using a special QR code scanner app. Many purpose built third-party QR code scanners have built-in security and reputation checkers.

Look at the URL Before Clicking

Before going to a website from a QR code, look at the URL. Make sure it matches the real website of the group it says it represents.

Avoid Scanning Weird Codes

Trust your feelings. If a QR code looks strange, don't scan it. Scammers often count on users' curiosity. Be careful when scanning QR codes that you see in public places. Don't scan them if they look weird, broken, or changed. Being careful is very important.

Update Your Device and Apps

Keep your device's operating system and QR code scanning apps updated. Updates often have security fixes that protect against known problems to include QR code scanning.

Be Careful of Websites From QR Code

Avoid giving out any personal details on a website that came from a QR code. This covers things like your location, payment info, login info, etc.

Avoid making any payments or contributions by scanning a QR code. Only use secure and reliable payment methods.

Contact Us For Phishing Safe Security Solutions

QR codes can be useful or harmful. Don't scan them without thinking. Beware of fraudsters who exploit your interest. This scam is a type of phishing. Phishing is a big risk for people and groups. If you need to protect your devices from phishing, contact us.

Contact us today to find out more.