Precautions to Minimize Risks with QR Codes

The use of QR codes over the past year and a half has make life easier for people, and it’s getting harder to avoid them as restaurants use them for touch-free menus and they’re found in numerous other business applications. But as we have learned with emails, credit cards and internet surfing, scammers are hiding around every corner looking for ways to liberate you from your money or information. You are your first and last line of defense in all these cases, and it’s no different with QR codes. Here are some precautions to take before scanning any QR code:

  • Only scan from sources you know to be legitimate.
  • If a QR code doesn’t look right, don’t scan it.
  • To be safe, never scan a QR code sent in an email unless you can absolutely verify that it was sent from a legitimate source. 
  • Never scan a code from randomly placed posters or advertisements.
  • Never scan a code that appears on a pop-up ad on a website.  
  • Be careful when scanning codes off products. Check first to see it’s the original code, and not one pasted over the original or added as a sticker.
  • Parking meters and ticket vending machines are common targets for scammers. Check to make sure the code has not been pasted over with a fake code.
  • Use a QR scanner that has a preview function. Some apps will enable you to “see-through” the code for information on its origins, including the website link.  Enabling QR scanning in Apple or Android’s camera app is a great way to not download additional apps on your phone that could be malicious
  • If you think you have come across a hacked QR code, report it immediately to the business or organization that the link purports to be associated with.    
  • Some financial institutions include their logo inside the QR code, similar to the way in which Alpine Bank does with its code below.
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