Beware of Fake QR Codes: FTC Warns of Scammers Stealing Your Information

Beware of Fake QR Codes: FTC Warns of Scammers Stealing Your Information

As QR code usage surges in India for various transactions, the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has issued a critical warning to the public. Scammers are increasingly hiding harmful links in fake QR codes, cleverly disguised as real ones, to steal sensitive information.

Reports reveal instances of scammers covering legitimate QR codes on parking meters with their own malicious ones. Others send fraudulent QR codes via text messages and emails, often claiming fake deliveries or urgent account issues.

These fake messages attempt to create urgency and trick individuals into scanning the QR code without hesitation.

John Fokker, head of threat intelligence at cybersecurity firm Trellix, confirmed the alarming rise of QR code attacks, with over 60,000 identified in just the third quarter of 2023. These scams often involve impersonating payroll/HR personnel or postal services to lure victims.

Scanning a scammer's QR code can lead to spoofed websites that appear legitimate but steal your information upon login.

Malware installation through QR code scanning is also a growing threat, silently stealing your data without your knowledge.

The FTC advises caution:

Scrutinize URLs:  Before scanning any QR code, especially in unexpected places, scrutinize the displayed URL for misspellings, switched letters, or other signs of spoofing.

Beware of unsolicited messages:  Do not scan QR codes received in unexpected emails or text messages, especially those urging immediate action.

Verify directly:  If you suspect the message's legitimacy, use a known phone number or website to contact the company directly, not through the provided links.

Skip the QR code scanning app:  Downloading standalone QR code scanning apps poses additional risks. Use your phone's built-in camera for scanning instead.

By remaining vigilant and following these precautions, individuals can protect themselves from falling victim to these increasingly sophisticated QR code scams. Remember, always be cautious and verify before scanning any QR code, and never hesitate to report any suspicious activity to relevant authorities

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December 11, 2023

Kalpana Maurya