FTC Warns Americans to Be Wary of QR Code Scams

(ConservativeJournal.org) – Federal Trade Commission (FTC) officials are warning Americans to think twice before scanning a QR code. Quick-response (QR) graphics are becoming a ubiquitous part of American commerce, from signing up for a loyalty program at a store to paying for parking, scanning the barcode style graphics with a cell phone has become somewhat commonplace.

Insider Intelligence reported that over 94 million people used QR codes to facilitate a transaction in 2023.

The FTC wants folks to be a little more wary before scanning QR codes with their phones due to the ability of scammers to use them to steal identifying information. Identity theft can lead to bank accounts being drained or fraudulent credit card charges. Fraudsters have also opened utility accounts and received medical care while identifying themselves as someone else. When the bills go unpaid, creditors seek victims of identity theft.

Scammers can hijack codes in public places, so be careful before scanning something you see out in the open. Only scan QR codes from sources you trust. If there’s anything remotely suspicious, don’t risk it!

Some scammers will send them via email messages, or imply the matter is urgent, requiring a quick response. This is to hijack your critical thinking by attempting to trigger an emotional response. Sometimes they can pretend to be package delivery service, or a relative in need.

Mike Scheumack with IdentityIQ warned that sometimes the codes will take you to a fake website that mimics a legitimate vendor, like Amazon or UPS. They’ll ask you for personal information and any information you hand over can later be used to open fraudulent accounts.

The FTC bulletin warned folks to carefully consider scanning QR codes. Only scan codes from trustworthy sources. Never scan codes that pop up in email messages or that attempt to instill a sense of urgency. Don’t scan codes that you weren’t expecting. They also advised everyone to keep their phone software up to date so they can have the latest security protections.

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