Scammers can use QR codes to steal your information

QR codes have become a way for scammers to hide malicious links as they are unreadable to the human eye. How to spot these scams.

Have you ever received an unwanted message with a QR (Quick Response) code? One of our VERIFY readers did and asked the team if a scammer was after them.

Legitimate businesses and businesses use QR codes to direct people to their websites, encourage app downloads, or display menus, among other things. If you scan the code with your mobile phone camera, a link will open.

Stephanie told VERIFY that she received a postcard in the mail claiming to be from Amazon.com inviting her to try a new product. The postcard said the recipient could scan a QR code to register their name and contact information, or email if interested.

THE QUESTION

Are scammers using QR codes to steal your personal information?

THE SOURCES

THE ANSWER

This is true.

Yes, scammers use QR codes to steal your personal information.

WHAT WE FOUND

The postcard Stephanie received is a scam and “not authorized by Amazon,” a spokesperson confirmed to VERIFY, adding that the company encourages people not to reply to these types of messages.

“Amazon requires sellers to follow certain guidelines when communicating with customers. Sellers are not permitted to send marketing or promotional messages, including coupons,” the spokesperson wrote in an email.

Customers should look for an @amazon.com email address to verify that a promotion is genuinely from the business. The email address listed on the postcard is us1@freegift10.com, which is not affiliated with Amazon.

The postcard also contains classic warning signs of a scam that VERIFY has previously identified, including the use of a generic greeting (“Dear Customer” instead of Stephanie’s name), an email address not affiliated with Amazon, and requests, to open a link where the recipient would enter personal information.

RELATED: VERIFY Fact Sheet: 5 Tips to Spot Email Scams

Amazon says its website URLs always have a dot before amazon.com – such as pay.amazon.com. Links directing customers to websites that are not legitimate Amazon domains are likely phishing attempts. Amazon customers can report fraud attempts online.

This type of QR code scam is on the rise, leading to alerts from both the Better Business Bureau (BBB) ​​and the FBI.

QR codes have become a way for scammers to “disguise malicious links” because they’re unreadable to the human eye, according to the BBB. In July 2021, the nonprofit announced that its scam tracker had seen more reports of scammers using QR codes to fool people.

Scammers often insert QR codes into emails, social media messages, text messages, flyers, or post. In some of these scams, the QR code will take you to a phishing website where the BBB will ask you to enter your personal information or login credentials. Scammers also use QR codes to automatically launch payment apps or links to follow malicious social media accounts.

In January 2022, the FBI also warned consumers about malicious QR codes through a public service announcement.

“Cybercriminals manipulate QR codes to redirect victims to malicious websites that steal credentials and financial information,” the federal agency said.

These codes can contain embedded malware that allows a scammer to access the victim’s cell phone and steal their location and personal information. Some criminals can also replace a company’s QR code designed to facilitate payment with a fake code and redirect a customer’s payment.

One such QR code scam targeted drivers at parking meters in the cities of San Antonio, Austin, and Houston, Texas, the nonprofit Pew Charitable Trust reported in February 2022. The scammers placed stickers with fake QR codes at pay stations. led drivers to a website where they were asked to enter their credit card or bank account information.

“While QR codes are not inherently malicious, it is important to exercise caution when entering financial information or making payments through a QR code accessed website. Law enforcement cannot guarantee the recovery of lost funds after the transfer,” the FBI said.

The BBB and FBI have offered these tips to avoid QR code scams:

  • If someone you know sends you a code via text or social media, contact them to make sure it’s legit and hasn’t been hacked.
  • Do not scan QR codes received in unsolicited messages from strangers, even if they promise gifts or other opportunities.
  • Be careful when entering login, personal or financial information from a website accessed via a QR code.
  • Check website URLs to make sure they look authentic and don’t contain any typos or misplaced letters.
  • Do not download apps from QR codes.
  • Look for signs that someone has tampered with a physical QR code, such as B. A sticker placed over the original code.
  • Install a QR code scanner with added security. Some antivirus companies have scanner apps that will check the safety of a link before you open it. They can also identify phishing scams, forced app downloads, and other dangerous links, the BBB says.

The VERIFY team works to separate fact from fiction so you can understand what is true and what is false. Please consider subscribing to our daily newsletter, text notifications and YouTube channel. You can also follow us on Snapchat, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and TikTok. Learn more “

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Alley Einstein

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