Consumer Alert: How to Avoid New QR Code Scams that Steal Money from Consumers?

Consumer Alert: How to Avoid New QR Code Scams that Steal Money from Consumers?
Photo by Markus Winkler / Unsplash

Spanish version

QR codes, short for Quick Response codes, are a form of barcode that can be scanned with a smartphone or other device to access information. They are often used in advertising and marketing campaigns.

However, Profeco, the consumer protection agency of Mexico, has warned about a new type of QR fraud that is being used to steal money from unsuspecting consumers.

Fraudsters have taken advantage of these alternatives to steal data using techniques associated with electronic crimes, such as QRjacking and QRishing.

QRjacking and QRishing are new forms of QR fraud

In a world where cybercrime is increasingly common, it is important to be vigilant about protecting your personal information. This can be especially difficult if you don’t know where you stand when it comes to scams and fraud.

QRjacking occurs when scammers use mobile apps to take over the phone’s camera and scan barcodes without the user’s knowledge. This allows them to scan the barcode to obtain payment information or a link that will be sent to a malicious website that can infect your phone.

QRishing involves a hacker sending you a text message that appears to come from a legitimate company and asking you to click on an attached link or download an app. If you do either of these things, malware will be installed on your phone that steals personal information stored in apps like Facebook or Gmail.
QR code scams have become a worrying problem

One of the ways cybercriminals can gain access to your personal information is through QR codes. As the use of these codes has become more popular, so has the use of fake QR codes by cybercriminals.

This type of fraud may seem harmless because it does not directly involve credit card numbers or any other form of payment; however, it can still lead to identity theft and other types of fraud that can have serious consequences for victims.

Reduce the risk

Profeco says that to avoid falling into the use of fake QR codes and the misuse of cybercrime, consumers should follow a series of recommendations that reduce the risk of being victims of this type of fraud.

One of the main tips provided by cybersecurity experts to avoid cyber scams is not to scan codes that look suspicious and to use applications that allow you to preview links before opening them.

Likewise, Profeco indicates that in order to avoid scams through QR codes, it is essential to have an antivirus installed in the devices through which you connect to the Internet, in addition to keeping your computer’s operating system updated.

It is advisable to deactivate automatic actions, as well as accessing websites, downloading files and direct connections to public Wi-Fi networks.

Always check account statements every month for unauthorized charges, use strong passwords that you do not use anywhere else.

And finally, do not trust links or attachments sent via email or social networking accounts.

By taking these precautions, you minimize the possibility of being a victim of some kind of virtual scam.