COLORADO SPRINGS — QR codes seem to be everywhere now, by quickly scanning one with your smartphone it’ll help you download a new app, read a restaurant menu, or launch a website. But the FBI and local cybersecurity experts say that hackers and fraudsters are taking advantage of the convenience.
The FBI recently issued a QR code warning that says criminals are putting stickers of fake QR codes over real ones. Investigators say this fraud is happening at restaurants, banks, through emails, and even parking meters across the country.
“It’s definitely happening and we’re going to hear about it more and more,” said Rick Crandall of the National Cybersecurity Center.
He says the fraudsters have a goal in mind.
”Mobile phone manufacturers have made it super easy to point your camera right at a QR code and nothing else and the next thing you know you’re looking at a website. If it was created cleverly it looks just like a legitimate website, but in fact it takes you to a place where bad things happen digitally,” said Crandall.
According to the FBI there are a few ways people are being victimized using an imposter QR code:
- The code takes you to an imposter phishing website trying to trick consumers into “logging in” inadvertently sharing passwords, giving up personal or banking information
- Also, the FBI warns scanning the wrong QR code could allow fraudsters to track information from your phone and even lock you out holding it hostage for payment.
”Companies are going to have to start taking responsibility for their codes being used,” said Crandall. “QR codes are one of the newest forms of tricking people into going to places they shouldn’t go and they really need to be aware of it.”
The NCC says there are steps you can take to reduce your risk of QR code fraud.
- Before scanning a QR code check to see if it’s been altered or tampered with
- If it takes you to a website, do your best to verify it’s real
- If it takes you to a payment site, call the company directly to verify it.
- If the code takes you to an app download, experts say it’s safer to download through your app store.
If you believe you’ve been the victim of QR code fraud. There are experts at the National Cybersecurity Center who can help you figure it out and take steps to protect yourself going forward.
To get in touch with the experts at the National Cybersecurity Center:
- 3650 N Nevada Ave Colorado Springs, CO 80907
NATIONAL CYBERSECURITY CENTER
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