QR codes – the little Digi squares, an effective tool for contactless transactional activities especially during the Covid-19 pandemic. Quick Response (QR) codes were originally developed back in the mid-nineties for utilization in the Japanese auto-making industry as a swift, machine-readable technique to reserve information regarding a specific item, whether for production, inventory, or eventual scale.
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QR code is the most convenient method to pay or receive money and this tool has seemed to grow exponentially in the last 5 years, mainly due to the explosion in the popularity of smartphones over the past decade. Most of the modern-day Android and iOS camera apps read the codes naturally unlike the previous years where the users have to download a particular QR code-scanning apps to access the information programmed into the tiny squares.
The biggest concern begins when fraudsters start to use QR codes as a doorway to secure consumers’ private information regarding bank details, private messages, etc. So how to identify what’s hidden in the QR codes and gain the necessary knowledge to identify a fraudulent one?
The popular method used by the fraudsters is to send texts to the consumers like – ‘Congratulations! You have won 2000 Rs.’ along with the picture of the QR code. This text will prompt the consumers to scan the QR code, enter the amount which will redirect the consumers to the UPI PIN page to receive the money in their account. Most of the consumers with less awareness are trapped in the net laid by the scammers and end up paying the scammer the amount.
The next popular method used by scammers to trick the consumers is to embed a fake QR code into a phishing email, text, or via social media platform. If the consumer scans the fake code which will redirect the consumer to the website with realistic-looking landing pages and the consumer will prompt the consumer to login via PII (personally identifiable information). A fabricated QR code has the ability to take the consumer to the websites where malware can be automatically installed and used to steal critical information from the consumers’ device or even share spyware or viruses.
Three methods to prevent yourself from QR code scam
1.) Read the message carefully and pay attention to the small details while making transactions via QR code.
2.) The device used for making payments should be updated frequently and install security software. If any suspicion arises immediately get in touch with your bank and request them to alter your login credentials.
3.) If the problem is severe you can contact the police and register a formal complaint with the cyber cell, the consumer can also register an online complaint on the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal – cybercrime.gov.in.
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