Organizations are raising awareness about the dangers of certain QR codes and the increasing prevalence of scams.
The QR code has become a common image in our daily lives, used for tasks such as paying at a restaurant, presenting a Covid-19 vaccination certificate, or following an Instagram account. However, this technology, now well-established in the urban landscape, poses many risks. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns consumers about the risks associated with scanning any QR code.
In a report, the American body states that reports of scams are multiplying, and criminals are increasingly using QR codes to retrieve personal data. The institution presents some of the most frequent examples. In a variant of the undelivered package or unpaid subscription message, scammers may send you a QR code to scan via email or message, a practice you should avoid. Some, even more deceitful, intrude into public spaces.
What alarms international organizations the most is the resurgence of scams on parking meters. Many people use parking meters to pay for their parking. These “state-of-the-art” machines allow payment by credit card and even with a QR code. The label is often located on the side of the parking meter, just below the instructions needed to install a mobile app.
Beware of parking meters. The problem is that many QR codes, which are supposed to make life easier, are actually fake devices designed to siphon off your bank account. Labels are often stuck on top of the real QR codes and direct you to a fraudulent payment site.
The right reflexes to adopt:
- When paying for parking with a QR code, check that it is not detachable from the rest of the label. Avoid it if it is askew or has a different color from the rest of the instructions. Peel it off if possible.
- Faced with such a scam, it is preferable to pay in the traditional way on the machine to ensure the security of your banking information and avoid fines for unpaid parking. If you decide to scan it, check the URL before opening it and making any payment.
The FTC’s report is alarming about this type of scam, with thousands of attacks recorded every month worldwide. Trellix, a cybersecurity company, admits to identifying over 60,000 scams in the last quarter of this year alone in the United States. It is, therefore, a growing phenomenon that requires increased vigilance.