Look Before You Scan QR Codes

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ROCKFORD, Ill. (WTVO) – The Better Business Bureau of Chicago and Northern Illinois is receiving more reports of con artists using QR codes to mislead consumers.

QR codes are those squares with a bunch of blocks in them. You are supposed to scan the code with your phone’s camera to open a link.

“Human eye can’t read these codes, they have become a way for scammers to disguise malicious links,” says Dennis Horton, Director of the Rockford Regional Office of the Better Business Bureau. He continued, “You receive an email, a direct message on social media, a text message, a flyer, or snail mail that includes a QR code.”

In some scams, the QR code takes you to a phishing website, where you are prompted to enter your personal information or login credentials for scammers to steal. Other times, con artists use QR codes to automatically launch payment apps or follow a malicious social media account.

“These scams differ greatly, but they all have one thing in common,” adds Horton. “Scammers hope you will scan the code right away, without taking a closer look. QR codes often appear to come from legitimate sources, so make sure any correspondence is legitimate before you scan the code.”

BBB tips on how to avoid QR code scams:


• If someone you know sends you a QR code, confirm before scanning it. Whether you receive a text message from a friend or a message on social media from your workmate, contact that person directly before you scan the QR code to ensure they haven’t been hacked.

• Don’t open links from strangers. If you receive an unsolicited message from a stranger, don’t scan the QR code, even if they promise you exciting gifts or investment opportunities.


• Verify the source. If a QR code appears to come from a reputable source, it’s wise to double-check. If the correspondence appears to come from a government agency, call or visit their official website to confirm.

• Be wary of short links. If a URL-shortened link appears when you scan a QR code, understand that you can’t know where the code directs you. It could be hiding a malicious URL.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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