Rising Instances of Deceptive QR Code Scams


Consumers face an escalating threat of identity theft and data breaches by exploiting Quick Response (QR) codes, an aged technology repurposed amidst the touchless payment trends sparked by the global pandemic.

QR codes, known for their black-and-white square configuration readable by smartphone cameras, were introduced in the mid-1990s. Hackers are taking advantage by superimposing fraudulent codes over legitimate ones. When individuals scan these bogus codes, they are directed to phishing websites, prompting the input of personal details. Additionally, a fake scan might lead to the initiation of a payment app or the opening of a counterfeit social media profile.

With the proliferation of QR codes, particularly in dining establishments and retail settings, these codes have become lucrative targets for hackers, serving as repositories of sensitive personal information.

Beyond verifying COVID-19 vaccination records, QR codes have facilitated hands-free transactions in various settings, such as restaurants, stores, and public venues. They enable effortless payments in parking facilities, pharmacies, airports, and numerous other customer-convenient locations. The vulnerability to a fraudulent QR code scam is more prevalent than anticipated. These deceptive codes can be found in emails, direct messages, social media advertisements, and diverse, unexpected locations. For instance:

  • Counterfeit QR codes on mock parking citations.
  • Fabricated QR codes embedded in flyers, sham email promotions, and false debt consolidation offers sent via mail.
  • Falsified websites posing as federal government platforms.
  • Locations like airports, subways, and train stations, where individuals seek swift and convenient shopping experiences.

Protecting oneself from falling victim to a fraudulent QR code scam requires the same vigilance applied to avoiding phishing emails. 

  1. Refrain from scanning QR codes or accessing links from unknown sources or unfamiliar businesses.
  2. When prompted by a bill featuring a QR code for payments, they ensure its legitimacy and prefer using trusted banking channels for transactions.
  3. Exercise caution before scanning a QR code received from a friend, as their account might have been compromised.
  4. Remain wary of settings where perpetrators might surreptitiously place counterfeit QR codes over genuine ones.

Get ready to step up your cyber safety game! Embrace our interactive mobile app, FRAUDSTER, now accessible on both Apple and Android platforms. Dive into the realm of cyber consumer concerns and discover top-notch protection techniques. For more information, head over to www.FraudsterApp.com.

Already a proud owner of the FraudsterApp? Take your security skills to the next level! Just tap on the training icon on your home screen to explore ways to fortify your defences. Visit our website for additional insights. Join us in safeguarding your digital world—empower yourself with FRAUDSTER!

Terry Cutler

I’m Terry Cutler, the creator of Internet Safety University, an educational system helping to defend corporations and individuals against growing cyber threats. I’m a federal government-cleared cybersecurity expert (a Certified Ethical Hacker), and the founder of Cyology Labs, a first-line security defence firm headquartered in Montréal, Canada. In 2020, I wrote a bestselling book about the secrets of internet safety from the viewpoint of an ethical hacker. I’m a frequent contributor to National & Global media coverage about cyber-crime, spying, security failures, internet scams, and social network dangers families and individuals face daily.