(WHTM) — You may have recognized QR codes on a growing number of items from virtual menus at restaurants to tracking labels on packages. But since these codes can’t be read by the human eye, they’ve become a way for scammers to disguise malicious links.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), scammers have begun using QR codes to link you to malicious websites where you are prompted to enter personal information or login credentials. Other times, con artists have attempted to automatically launch payment apps.
While these scams differ greatly, they all have one thing in common — scammers hope you’ll blindly scan the code without taking a closer look. So what can you do to protect yourself?
The BBB says there are a number of methods to protect yourself against fraudulent QR codes.
If you receive a message from a friend or colleague containing a QR code, contact that person directly before scanning anything to make sure they haven’t been hacked. Unsolicited messages from strangers should never be scanned, even if they promise you exciting gifts or investment opportunities.
Always verify the source and watch out for materials that have been tampered with. Some scammers attempt to mislead consumers by altering legitimate business ads by replacing stickers or the QR code, said the Bureau.
Lastly, install a QR scanner with added security. Some antivirus companies have scanner apps that check the safety of a scanned link before you open it. These apps can detect if a seemingly harmless link turns out to be a phishing scam, forced download or another dangerous link.