KGNS On Your Side: Tips to avoid QR code phishing scams

Published: Oct. 30, 2023 at 10:47 AM CDT
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LAREDO, Tex. (KGNS) - Scammers are at it again with a new way to trick consumers out of their money.

It’s called “quishing” and it’s a type of phishing scam that uses QR codes to deceive victims.

QR codes grew in popularity during the COVID-19 pandemic as a contactless access point to products and services.

Now, the square-shaped barcode is everywhere - restaurants, banks, parking lots, stores, etc.

The Better Business Bureau has recently seen an uptick in reports of QR phishing scams.

“We’ve seen a lot of local victims, some losing money in the terms of hundreds,” said Jason Meza, Senior Regional Director for the BBB.

“Very few [people] lost thousands because at some point they pick up that they’re in the wrong place,” he added.

Meza said the non-profit is noticing more scam reports associated with parking meters that have QR codes.

”[Parking meters are] outside, hard to guard. We simply park, pay via QR, and we leave; and sometimes that car [is] gone and towed, or we end up getting ticketed, so, yes, it does happen a lot with parking meters,” Meza said.

The BBB shares the following tips to avoid falling victim to a “quishing” scam:

  • Check for tampering: Before scanning a QR code check for any tampering to the original code. It’s possible that a criminal may have placed their code over the original. If you’re unsure if the code has been tampered with contact the business providing the code to verify.
  • Download a QR code scanner app: There are apps available that provide an extra layer of security by spotting fake sites attached to the QR code.
  • Fake hyperlinks: When the link for a QR code pops up be sure to check for any misspellings in the hyperlink. A misspelling could be a clear indicator that it’s a scam.

The BBB encourages people who have fallen victim to a scam to file a report with local police and to notify the non-profit through its scam tracker.

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