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Watch Out for QR Code Scams

Picture of FBI at a computer.
The FBI issued a PSA on 1.18.22

The FBI recently issued a Public Service Announcement to raise awareness of malicious Quick Response (QR) codes. A QR code is a square barcode that a smartphone can take a picture of and open a link to a website with. These QR codes can prompt you to download or install programs or display fraudulent phishing websites that try to steal your information.

Scammers are increasingly using malicious QR codes to install malware on smart devices that can be used to track and steal financial information.

The FBI provided the below tips on how to protect yourself from QR code scams:

Once you scan a QR code, check the URL to make sure it is the intended site and looks authentic. A malicious domain name may be similar to the intended URL but with typos or a misplaced letter.

Practice caution when entering login, personal, or financial information from a site navigated to from a QR code.

If scanning a physical QR code, ensure the code has not been tampered with, such as with a sticker placed on top of the original code.

Do not download an app from a QR code. Use your phone's app store for a safer download.

If you receive an email stating a payment failed from a company you recently made a purchase with and the company states you can only complete the payment through a QR code, call the company to verify. Locate the company's phone number through a trusted site rather than a number provided in the email.

Do not download a QR code scanner app. This increases your risk of downloading malware onto your device. Most phones have a built-in scanner through the camera app.

If you receive a QR code that you believe to be from someone you know, reach out to them through a known number or address to verify that the code is from them.

Avoid making payments through a site navigated to from a QR code. Instead, manually enter a known and trusted URL to complete the payment.

If you think that someone may be trying to scam you with a QR code purported to be from SOCU, please call us at 815-673-5577 for assistance.