FBI warning: criminals using fake QR codes to steal money

A new warning from the FBI is asking people to be on alert whenever they use their phone to scan a QR code, because some fake QR codes are designed to steal your money or data.

A QR code is a square barcode that a smartphone camera can scan, and provides quick access to a website, payment or app download. According to an alert from the FBI, “cybercriminals are taking advantage of this technology by directing QR code scans to malicious sites to steal victim data, embedding malware to gain access to the victim’s device, and redirecting payment for cybercriminal use.”

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Earlier this month, fraudulent QR codes were found on stickers on more than two dozen parking stations in Texas, which directed people to a fake website and had victims pay a fraudulent vendor, CNN reported.

The FBI offered these tips to protect yourself:

· When you scan a QR code, check the web address to make sure it’s authentic. Check carefully for any typos or misplaced letters.

· Use caution when entering any personal or financial information on any website navigated to from a QR code.

· Make sure the code you’re scanning hasn’t been tampered with, as in a sticker placed on top of the original.

· If you get an email saying you need to pay by using a QR code, call the company to verify first before paying.

· Do not download a QR scanner app. Most phones have a built-in scanner through the device’s camera.

· If you receive a QR code from somebody you know, reach out to them through a separate number or email address to confirm the code is from them.

· Avoid making payments through any websites navigated to by a QR code.

Anyone who believes they are a victim of a fraudulent QR code and had money taken, report the fraud to your local FBI field office.

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