As awareness about using QR Codes in the market increases, the number of scammers has also increased. They are coming up with new and innovative ways for tricking users into providing them with necessary information.
As a user, you need to identify a scam or a fraud when it presents itself to you, which isn’t difficult if you have the know-how. Here we will tell you 7 tips that will help you recognize fake QR codes. Also, we’ll mention the ways to deal with the scam if you get into one.
1. Verify The Source Of QR Code
Whenever your smartphone prompts you to download a QR reader app, make sure there is no source behind it. Never download any unknown QR code or QR generator apps from anywhere other than the Google play store because these apps may be offering hidden charges to lure you into downloading them.
2. Check If QR Code Looks Out of Place
When scanning a QR code, if it opens up to an unknown website or if the website is different than what was advertised, close the link and remove the app immediately. Some other common places where scams frequently appear are social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.
You may get stuck into some malware while trying to scan one such fake QR code that pops up on your timeline or in your friend’s message box. So be careful when dealing with anything you receive through social media websites.
3. Check the Link Where QR Code is Redirecting
If you have scanned a QR code from a poster at any event, check whether it is taking you to the webpage of that event or some other. If you are being redirected to a different website, remove the app immediately.
This may be another fraud QR code trying to mislead you into visiting some phishing or malware-infested websites.
4. Avoid Scanning QR Codes Received Through Emails
If someone sends an email containing a QR code, make sure it’s really from them before scanning the QR code in the mail. These kinds of scam emails are usually sent by fraudsters who spoof some popular brands and organizations on behalf of them to get users’ personal information through fake QR codes that they send in emails. Verify senders before scanning their QR codes to avoid this kind of fraud.
5. Use Secure QR Code Scanner to Get Alerts Against Malicious QR Codes
Not all QR readers are created equal, especially regarding security features. Some of the best ones, like Google Goggles, offer protection against fraudulent QR codes using unique scanning algorithms that inspect scanned QR codes thoroughly before directing users anywhere else.
So make sure you use one of these secure QR code scanners instead of any random scanner app available on the Google play store or Windows apps store. Also, remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
6. Always Verify the URL of Websites at Which You Want to Sign Up
This is one of the most important tips while avoiding getting caught by some fraudulent QR code. To avoid compromising on security while using a fake QR Code, you will need to verify the URLs of websites before signing up for access.
Some common techniques that scammers use are misspelling or similar incorrect spelling of genuine URLs, adding extra characters in the domain names, or changing letter cases (to make http://www.abcd.com look like http://www.ABCD.com).
So always check carefully before entering your information if the website appears suspicious, close it immediately, and report it to the site admin/service provider directly via feedback form given on the official webpage or contact email address.
7. Be Careful While Redeeming Codes / Coupons
Every type of QR Code can generate some unique QR code that will unlock some special content, discount coupon, or reward points on sites like Target, Starbucks, etc.
However, as mentioned above, it is also true that there are many fraudulent websites out there trying hard to use these same codes to steal your sensitive information through fraudulent codes.
So always check for the URL you want to redeem the code and verify if the site is genuine before entering your information anywhere. Otherwise, it may download malware from malicious sites putting you in a trouble.
Combining all these tips will help you avoid getting caught by frauds and scammers using fake QR codes to extract users’ personal information through their mobile phones. So use these tips to prevent any risks and stay safe.
Steps To Follow If You Fall Victim To QR Code Scam
If you ever fall victim to a QR code scam, there are a few steps you can take to protect yourself.
1. Involve Your Bank
When you first realize that your money is gone, call and inform your bank right away. It will help them track the thief and stop any possible transactions that he makes on your card or his own using your information.
2. Request To Block Credit Cards Involved
You can also request to block the usage of all credit cards involved with this crime to prevent further unauthorized activity.
3. Contact Cybercrime Protection
Lastly, report the situation to cybercrime protection to create a better warning system for other people who might fall victim in the future. By getting these crimes reported, you are helping potential victims avoid having their money stolen by criminals like yourself. Also, they’ll investigate and try to get your money back.
Also Check: QR Code Privacy Concerns | Should You Use Them?
1. What Is A QR Code?
A QR code, also known as Quick Response Code, is a two-dimensional barcode. It works with the help of a smartphone application to read and interpret data encoded within it.
2. Why Was There A Need For Using QR Codes?
QR codes are utilized because they make sharing information via mobile simpler and more effective compared to text messages or other social media platforms.
They provide people with an easy way to implement the Semantic Web into their daily lives. The rising popularity of smartphones has been beneficial in that it helps those who use them to be able to access vital information quickly.
In addition, companies can also take advantage of these two-dimensional barcodes to advertise their products or services, generate sales leads, and even keep track of data.
3. What Are Some Benefits Of QR Codes?
QR Codes allow consumers to listen to videos, read articles, get coupons for nearby deals, and much more with just a simple scan.
This technology has also provided companies with an efficient way to distribute marketing materials containing information about their brands that will ultimately increase the chances of attracting new customers.
4. How Do QR Scams Work?
QR codes are used to link consumers to different mobile web pages for them to be able to access the information they want. However, this technology has a downside because scammers have found ways to use QR codes to trick people into sharing information that can be used against them.
5. How Do You Avoid QR Code Scams?
To prevent falling prey to these scams, you must understand what they are like by identifying their characteristics. Scammers make use of the following methods:
- Using fake telephone numbers designed to look like actual companies’ contact details
- Impersonating organizations or individuals
- Sending unsolicited text messages
- Posting malicious QR codes on social media
So, beware of them to prevent yourself during QR code payments or even when you scan a QR code.
QR codes can be great tools to help direct customers to your website or product, but they can also be used for scams and fraud. It’s essential to identify a fake QR code to avoid these scams. Be sure to spot them and take the necessary steps if you fall victim to a QR code scam. We hope this information helps keep you safe and protects your hard-earned money.
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Maryam has been teaching IT as a school teacher for over a decade, and her main subject of choice is Internet safety, especially helping parents keep their families safe and secure online. When Maryam is not teaching or writing she is a big fan of the outdoors, the complete opposite of staring at a computer screen for hours.