Even if everyone doesn’t use them, we are all pretty much familiar with QR Codes such as the one shown below. The Quick Response (QR) code is a two dimensional barcode that can be scanned and read by your cellphone. They have been around since 1994 and like a link that you click on, they can take you to a website or some other source of information quickly and easily. Advertisers are fond of QR codes because they are easier for consumers to scan then type in a long URL. However, no good deed goes unpunished and scammers are always ready to turn anything into a scam so it is not surprising that QR codes have been used by scammers to perpetrate scams. QR code scams increased dramatically during the pandemic. Often the scams come in the form of phishing emails that instead of attempting to lure you into clicking on infected links, try to persuade you to scan the QR code which can result in your downloading malware on to your phone, such as ransomware or keystroke logging malware that can lead to your becoming a victim of identity theft.
Recently the Georgetown, Kentucky Police Department issued a warning about QR code scams circulating through emails, direct messages on social media and text messages that attempt to lure you into providing personal information that will lead to your becoming a victim of identity theft or downloading malware.
Bitcoin addresses are also often sent through QR codes which is why they have been turning up in Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency scams.
Trust me, you can’t trust anyone. Just as I am always telling you not to click on links in emails regardless of how legitimate the communication may appear unless you have absolutely confirmed that the email is legitimate, so should you not scan QR codes unless you have absolutely confirmed that it is legitimate for the same reason. Downloading malware or being tricked by an apparently legitimate appearing website to provide personal information can lead easily to your becoming a scam victim or identity theft victim.
Fortunately, there are also apps such as the free Kaspersky QR code scanner app that will not only scan the QR code, but also let you know if it is legitimate and prevent downloading of malware from bogus QC codes. Here is a link to Kaspersky’s QR code scanner. https://www.kaspersky.com/qr-scanner
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