How to spot malicious QR codes

QR codes have been around for some time, but they saw an increase in usage as the COVID-19 pandemic became more serious. For example, the square black and white images made it safer for people to view a restaurant’s menu. Instead of physically handling it, they can see it on their phones.

But with the resurging popularity came a few scams, too. You don’t need a QR code app to follow the embedded links, but that didn’t stop scammers from releasing fake QR code apps.

Now, scammers are placing malicious QR codes in businesses across the country and sending them to unsuspecting victims in other ways. Read on for details on these tricky scams and how to avoid them.

Here’s the backstory

A QR code, or Quick Response code, is a type of barcode invented years ago. The optical label, through random patterns, stores data such as a website’s URL, a link to an app or contact information.

They work by scannning the QR code with your phone’s camera, and a link pops up with a short description. But in most cases, you have no idea where exactly it is taking you before tapping on the URL.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns about malicious QR codes being used by scammers across the U.S. BBB said, “Malicious QR codes direct users to phishing websites, fraudulent payment portals, and downloads that infect devices…

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