What are the various types of QR Code Scams?

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Money transfers are now simplified as a result of the digitalization of everything. With UPI and other modes of digital transactions, users can initiate money transfers to any bank account in a matter of seconds, just like sending an SMS or using instant messaging apps. Digital and online banking transactions are simpler, faster, and even safer. Aside from these benefits, there is another disadvantage that has increased the rate of online fraud. The QR code scam is a new trick that cybercriminals are using to defraud people.

QR code scams have captured our attention in recent years and have grown in popularity among cybercriminals. Just scan through any QR code, and cybercriminals can access all your sensitive data. Some people can lose a lot of money this way, and the majority of cyber frauds are related to UPI and digital payment methods, which are becoming more popular day by day. People are becoming victims of phishing links, ATM or SIM skimming, and other scams. Is the QR code generator safe? Continue reading to learn about the various types of QR code scams.

What is a QR code?

Quick Response (QR) codes are complicated-looking combinations of black and white squares. These codes are used to establish connections to data and information on the internet. Only machines, mostly smartphones, can read these codes, and they are designed to be read quickly.

Different types of QR code scams

The primary goal of QR code fraud is to direct you to a page where cybercriminals can steal your money and data. QR code scams can be performed in a variety of ways, which we will discuss further below.

  • Phishing via QR codes: “a modern classic”

You have probably heard of the term phishing. In a QR code phishing attack, cybercriminals will pose as someone you know or trust in order to obtain your data. These attacks are typically carried out via email, phone calls, or social media. They may send you a QR code via email, flyer, letter, or social media message. Scanning will take you to a page where you will be asked to enter your personal information, and the requested data includes sensitive information such as banking details. Attackers can do whatever they want with the information they receive.

Sometimes the Phishing QR codes lead to fake websites that appear to belong to big and trustworthy organizations. As with regular phishing, QR code phishers often pose as employees of big and important companies, such as banks and other financial institutions.

  • Face-to-face QR code scams for a stranger in need

In face-to-face scams, someone approaches you in person with an elaborate story about why you need to scan QR codes. Criminals may approach people and ask for help paying for parking spaces. They promised to return the money in cash after scanning a QR code and transferring money to their bank account. Many victims have lost large amounts of money because they did not realize that scanning the QR code gave the criminals access to their online banking information.

It is potentially dangerous to virtually anyone because it occurs face-to-face. At the same time, it is one of the more difficult scams to detect because many of us have difficulty saying “no” when asked for help in person.

  • The online marketplace scam method

Some scammers may approach you on online marketplaces, claiming that they want to buy the goods you are selling and asking you to scan a QR code, so they can ensure that the money is transferred to the correct bank account. That is how they gain access to your bank account and transfer all of your funds to their own account.

Scammers may also claim that they want to buy your product and transfer a small amount of money to see if it is in the correct bank account or not in order to gain the victim’s trust. Following that, they request that the victim scan a QR code in order to receive a reminder of the money. Scanning this code, on the other hand, will result in the victim losing money.

  • Viruses infected with QR codes

Cybercriminals can now easily embed links to web pages containing viruses and other malware into QR codes, compromising your sensitive data. In many cases, just scanning the QR code is enough for the malware to do its damage. It is possible because some websites automatically download malicious software when you visit them. If a website you visit via a QR code downloads a keylogger on your device, that malware will record everything you type, including sensitive data.

An investigation found that QR code scams and malware now target Android phones, and scanning the QR code leads to a page where victims can download a Trojan Horse that looks like a normal Android file. Once installed, this Trojan Horse sends text messages to a phone number that charges a fee per message, and the scammers receive the money.

  • Payment fraud with QR codes

QR code scams involve tampering with QR codes or placing fraudulent codes in places where many online payments are made and no one notices, such as gas stations that accept QR codes for payment. Criminals may even conceal legitimate QR codes in order to trick more victims into using their codes instead. These QR code scams are difficult because they appear in places where you expect to find legitimate QR codes. Criminals take advantage of the current systems in place to line their own pockets.

Closing Thoughts

QR code scanning can make money transactions easier, scammers are always looking for new ways to steal your money. And now, many QR scams are combined with other scams, and they only need your information to fill them out so they can steal your money. There are also payment scams in which simply scanning a QR code gets you into trouble and deducts money from your account. These include fake letters with QR codes purporting to be from large institutions and companies, as well as URLs with malware embedded in QR codes. To avoid these types of scams, simply be cautious when scanning any QR codes.


Name: Sweta Kumari Panda

About the author: Sweta is an SEO content writer from Brahampur, Odisha, but currently lives in Bangalore. She is doing an internship in Digital Marketing and writing content for the leadership category. She graduated from Brahampur University in 2016 and has a degree in Mathematics (Hons).

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