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The Downside Of QR Codes

The Downside Of QR Codes - The Beacon


By: Tom

The Downside Of QR Codes

A couple of years ago, we presented information about the spreading use of QR Codes, and how advertisers were taking advantage of this technology to provide information about products, offers, and coupons.

Unfortunately, it looks like some bad guys have figured out a way to create QR codes to steer unsuspecting consumers to malicious sites.  Ultimately, the objective is to infect phones and computers with viruses or malware which could include key logging software that would capture account information, including, credit card information, banking information, login information such as user names and passwords.

The way these fraudulent QR codes work is that they may actually be printed on stickers which are placed over a QR code that provides information regarding an actual offer.  They could appear on billboards, transit ads, magazines in medical offices, etc.

Here are some steps you can take to insure you aren’t victimized by fraudulent QR codes.

1. Once you’ve scanned the code, do not click on the links from your smart phone.  Wait until you can get to your computer and check out who owns the site, if it’s available, from sources like  Some urls are registered by proxy services, thus making the ownership of the site to be known.

2. The url could be masked by using a verifiable site, but when you click on the link, it diverts you to a malicious site.  An important thing to remember is these sites may be outside of the US.

3. If you have access to the medium on which the code is printed, run your finger over the area, for example, if it’s in a magazine, to insure it’s not a sticker.  Other sources may be more difficult to make this determination.

4. Finally, if there is a business associated with the QR code, check it out with your BBB before clicking on that link.  We report on over four million businesses in North America, and you can always start with your local BBB,

For more information you can trust, visit


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Tom is Vice President for the Tri-State Better Business Bureau. In addition to answering the needs of our accredited businesses, Tom can be seen on WEVV providing tips for businesses and consumers. He also works closely with other local media outlets to keep our community informed of marketplace issues affecting our area.