QR Code Fraud What Is it and How To Protect Yourself

QR Code Fraud What Is it and How To Protect Yourself

07 February, 2024

Quick response codes, commonly known as QR codes, are two-dimensional barcodes that store information that an electronic device can read. Online payments have soared in the last couple of years, and QR codes have played a significant role in this increase.

You might have already made numerous payments by scanning different QR codes. QR codes have changed the way people make payments because of the convenience they offer. Instead of noting down someone’s account details and then making a payment, all you have to do now is scan the QR code, enter the amount and validate the transaction. 

But, since QR codes have been on the rise, scammers have also come up with ways to dupe users and conduct QR code scan scams. In this article, you will learn the various ways in which scammers operate and how you can save yourself from such fraud.

Methods of QR code scams 

There are numerous ways in which scammers cheat people via QR codes. Most of them involve people carelessly scanning QR codes. The following are some standard ways of these scams - 

  1. Payment scams - The primary use of QR codes is to make payments. Most of you would have made numerous payments using them. Hence, almost all businesses, big or small, now keep their QR code ready on the counter to receive payments. 

    As business owners, they know that customers would seek the convenience of making digital payments. Unfortunately, scammers are also aware of how people can be careless when it comes to scanning the QR code present on the counter. 

    Scammers know that you might scan the code and make the payment without verifying anything. Hence, scammers use counterfeit codes that transfer the amount into their account instead of the desired receiver. 

  2. Malicious codes - QR codes might contain malicious software, which might steal the personal data available on your device. Once the data has been stolen, scammers can easily access it to scam you. 

  3. Phishing - Scanning a QR code can redirect you to a website or an app. Scammers often create fake websites and apps resembling the original ones. Such fake platforms are then embedded in the QR code. When scanned, you will land on one of these fake websites / apps.

    These fake platforms will ask you for your personal information, which the scammer will ultimately receive to conduct their fraudulent activities.

  4. WiFi networks - You can scan QR codes to join WiFi networks. If you enter any public network by scanning a QR code, then utmost caution should be exercised. Hackers can hack public WiFi networks to steal all your data.

  5. Event registrations - QR codes can also provide the link or form to register for an upcoming event. At times, scammers put up fake QR codes for famous events to steal data. 

How to save yourself from QR code scan fraud?

Prevention is better than cure, and the same is true for QR code scams. You can save yourself from becoming a victim by following these easy tips - 

  1. Payment verification - While making any payment via a QR code, first read the details it provides you with. Typically, the beneficiary’s name is visible before making the payment. You should cross-check this name with the desired receiver before transacting.

    QR codes can also automatically fill in the payment amount; always check the amount asked before validating the transaction. If you ever happen to make a payment to an unintended user, seek the help of your bank immediately. 

  2. Check the source - Scanning random QR codes is not a prudent idea. Always check the source of the QR code before you decide to scan it. Do not scan unsolicited QR codes received via SMS or e-mail, as they might contain malicious software to steal your data.

  3. Read the URL - After you have scanned a QR code and have landed on a website or app, always read the URL thoroughly. Ensure it is legitimate and not a phishing website.

    Fake websites are usually spelt incorrectly; hence paying attention to each letter might be helpful to differentiate the legitimate ones from the fake ones.

  4. Check for tampering - Inspect the QR code before scanning. Look closely at the physical code and check for any signs of tampering, especially around the edges. If you believe the QR code has been tampered with, never scan that particular QR code.

  5. Be alert - If any offer claims to-good-to-be true deals, you should get extra cautious. Mostly, these offers are false and a method to scam people. Staying aware of new scam techniques and how to save yourself is also essential.

    This is where HDFC Bank Vigil Aunty can help you. She will keep you updated with the new modes of scams and what you can do to save yourself!

  6. Software updates - Always check for the latest software updates on your operating platform and the payment application. Developers constantly update their operating platforms and apps to make them more secure, which can help you curb the chances of becoming a victim of fraud.

Now that you are aware of what a QR code is and how scams are conducted, you can use the essential tips to save yourself from such scams. It is always important to stay vigilant while dealing with funds. A simple miss can cause you to lose your hard-earned money.

If you ever feel that you have been a victim of fraud, report it to your bank and relevant authorities immediately! 

*Terms and conditions apply. The information provided in this article is generic in nature and for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for specific advice in your own circumstances.

Related Articles