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All About 'Quishing'; The latest Tactic Employed by Scammers Using QR Codes

Beware of QR Codes, there's a Potential Theft of Payment and Personal Info.
Image Source: Photo by Kampus Production | pexels
Image Source: Photo by Kampus Production | pexels

Holiday season was marred by scams from those targeting people through gift cards to the ones where unrealistic discounts were offered to lure victims. But even after the festivities have ended, scammers are in no mood to slow down, as they have come up with new tactics to siphon off money in the new year. As per reports, several people who are still recovering from holiday spending, are eager to find deals in January, and this makes them vulnerable to another scam involving something we are all surrounded by. Scammers are now exploiting QR codes, the latest trend in bargain hunting, leading the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to issue a warning.

Image Source: Photo by Pixabay | Pexels
Image Source: Photo by Pixabay | Pexels

QR codes, or quick response codes, have become a convenient way for people to access various services with a simple scan. Be it online menus, event tickets, parking information, or post-holiday sales, a quick scan opens up a virtual window. Unfortunately, scammers are taking advantage by hiding harmful links in QR codes to access personal and payment information or install malware, turning the feature into a trap door.

The FTC calls this tactic 'quishing,' a play on words to combine "QR code" and "phishing." As part of this fraud, scammers create deceptive QR codes that resemble legitimate ones, making it difficult for users to spot signs of the scam.

Sammi Nachtigal from the FTC emphasizes that these scams can be tricky to detect because virus detection software may not recognize QR codes as potential threats. The fake QR code leads users to a fraudulent website that appears genuine, making it likely for them to unknowingly provide sensitive information.

Image Source: Photo by Leeloo Thefirst |Pexels
Image Source: Photo by Leeloo Thefirst |Pexels

To protect yourself, experts advise treating QR codes like suspicious emails. Check for spelling errors or altered letters in the link the QR code directs you to. If the code is printed or posted, ensure it hasn't been tampered with, as scammers may place stickers over legitimate QR codes to redirect users to malicious sites.

While QR codes are widely used in trustworthy places like doctors' clinics for streamlined transactions and information sharing, Nachtigal urges caution when QR codes are sent to you unexpectedly. It's a good practice not to scan QR codes from unanticipated emails or text messages, especially if they urge immediate action.

Before clicking on a QR code, read through the presented website to verify it's legitimacy. While it's tempting to take advantage of discounts or sales, exercising caution with QR codes can protect you from falling victim to scams.