Those square codes we scan from our phones that get us straight to a website or app, can also take us right to cyber criminals.
The FBI says it's seeing an increase in QR code scams.
Supervisory Special Agent Jill Mansfield is Supervisor for the Cyber Squad at the St. Louis Field office of the FBI. Mansfield says more businesses, especially restaurants, have been using QR codes to provide contactless access during the pandemic. But cyber criminals are hijacking those codes to divert you to the wrong sites.
"We've been warning people for years, don't click the link, or be very suspicious of clicking a link from an unknown sender," Mansfield says. "It's the same thing with a QR code. If someone randomly hands you a flyer and asks you to scan that QR code, think of it the same way, be cautious, be suspicious, think before you click, think before you scan."
Mansfield says in some cases they've seen criminals put their own QR code on a sticker and cover up a legitimate code at businesses.
Some tips from the FBI:
- Don't download apps from QR codes. Go to your phone's app store.
- If you receive a QR code that appears to be from someone you know, check with them before using it.
- Avoid making payments to a site you get to from a QR code. Go to a known and trusted website for that company to make payment.