QR Code Scams Are On The Rise

QR Code Scams Are On The Rise

Tyler Cross Tyler Cross
Published on: June 18, 2024 Senior Writer

A new wave of QR-based scams prompted the FTC to release a notice that warned potential victims about how they might fall victim to these easy-to-fall-into scams.

A QR code scam is especially effective because of how easy it is to fall into. All across the country, services like parking lots, park admittance, and tickets are increasingly relying on QR codes to function.

The days of having to pay someone directly or paying into a meter are quickly being overshadowed by QR codes. They’re more convenient, easier to set up, and can be easily created by any company. Since just about everyone has a smartphone, it’s usually easier for the consumer to pay as well.

However, as the FTC warns, there are gaping security flaws with QR codes.

Namely, anyone can create a QR code using websites like QR Code Generator that links to any website on the internet.

The glaring problem with this is that scammers can create a QR code that links to a malicious website and slap it in any parking garage, park, or event and wait for someone to scan it.

An innocent bystander who just wants to pay for parking will accidentally give important financial information to the scammer while visiting these malicious sites.

QR codes have some built-in protections, such as updates that preview the link you’re opening before you click on it. That said, these defenses aren’t enough to prevent the scams from being successful. Even if you can preview the link, many people will still be encouraged to simply visit the link without thinking about it.

The FTC stresses that the danger isn’t just in parking garages or events, but rather via text messages and emails containing a QR code encouraging people to visit that website.

These types of scams include social engineering scams, such as fake alerts from your bank, warnings that a package failed to deliver, or other ways that can induce a sense of urgency for users to scan the QR code.

The FTC warns users to be wary of any QR codes they scan.

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