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Uncovering the Dark World of QR Code Scams: How to Protect Yourself from Fraudulent QR Codes and Keep Information Safe

By January 4, 2023July 29th, 2023General

QR codes are very handy. They are everywhere these days. You can use your mobile phone to do a quick scan for online ordering, pick up details about a product and even initiate certain payments using a QR code.

The occurrence of scams using quick response (QR) codes have grown around the world, especially in countries that are moving towards being cashless societies that are using the technology to make small transactions simply and rapidly.

QR codes are essentially 2D barcodes that can be easily scanned by a smartphone and can be quickly created by anyone using a QR code app.

Most of the scams recognized involve fake QR codes being stuck over real codes placed in shops or even parking fines, leading entities to transfer money into the incorrect bank account or inserting malware onto their device.

QR codes are not nearly as popular in India as in other countries, making the risk here significantly lower but remarkable.

How the QR code steals money?

When it comes to paying for the product purchased, the seemingly legit buyer (actually a fraudster) shares a QR code with the seller on WhatsApp, telling them that scanning the code would finish the payment and they’d get the money.

However, in reality, this is a payment request link, which, once scanned, handovers the money from the seller to the buyer, instead of receiving it.

The buyer tries to distract the seller on call, too

While sending the payment request, the fraudster tries to distract the seller so that they don’t notice that they are scanning the QR code and entering their PIN for actually sending the money, not receiving it.

Remarkably, once the money gets debited from the victim’s end, there is no turning back, as the fraudsters simply disconnect the call and vanish with the transferred amount.

How to protect yourself from such scams?

  • do not scan a QR code until you know the person or merchant it belongs to.
  • Remember the fact that you don’t have to scan a QR code for receiving money in your account. In fact, the person paying the money has to scan your UPI-linked QR code for transferring the funds.
  • Check all the transaction notifications in the payment app as well bank app also instantly when you do digital payments.
  • If you are a seller, make sure to check your bank balance and don’t just rely on SMS alerts while receiving money from the buyers.
  • Keep an eye on your bank balance when sending/receiving money.