QR codes can be used for theft – FTC

QR codes can be used for theft - FTC

QR codes can be used for theft – FTC

Original report from Greg Iacurci

QR codes, those digital squares used for storing URLs, have become incredibly common, appearing on restaurant menus and in retail stores. However, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has cautioned that they can come with risks.

A projection by eMarketer suggests that this year, around 94 million U.S. consumers will utilize smartphone QR scanners, with that number expected to increase to 102.6 million by 2026.

Alvaro Puig, an FTC consumer education specialist, points out that the versatility of QR codes explains their widespread popularity. In a consumer alert, Puig emphasizes the importance of being cautious when interacting with QR codes.

“Unfortunately, scammers hide harmful links in QR codes to steal personal information,” Puig said.

Here’s why the warning from the FTC is significant: Identity thieves have the ability to exploit individuals’ personal information for various fraudulent activities. This includes draining bank accounts, making unauthorized credit card charges, opening utility accounts in the victims’ names, accessing medical treatment using their health insurance, and even filing tax returns to fraudulently claim tax refunds.

In a separate report, the FTC highlights the potential risks associated with QR codes. For instance, some criminals may manipulate parking meters by placing their own QR codes over legitimate ones.

Also read: Harnessing Potential for Personal Growth

Risks of QR codes

Furthermore, the FTC cautions against scanning QR codes received via text message or email, as these could be used by scammers to deceive individuals. It is essential to remain vigilant and exercise caution when interacting with QR codes, as emphasized in the FTC’s consumer alert.

Scammers frequently employ tactics designed to create a sense of urgency and manipulate individuals into scanning QR codes. For example, they might claim that a package delivery was unsuccessful and prompt recipients to reschedule the delivery by scanning the QR code.

Another common approach is to send messages stating that there has been suspicious activity on the recipient’s account and that they must scan the QR code to change their password. These urgent scenarios are designed to pressure victims into taking immediate action without careful consideration.

However, when victims scan these QR codes, they may unknowingly open a compromised URL, exposing themselves to potential risks and scams. Thus, it is crucial to maintain a skeptical mindset and exercise caution when encountering such requests involving QR codes.

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