21Investigates: Scam Tracker -- QR Code Scams Rising

Published: Aug. 24, 2023 at 5:15 PM EDT
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - Quick response (QR) codes might be convenient, but experts with the Better Business Bureau of Northern Indiana say they’re also an easy target for scammers.

“A lot of folks don’t know much about QR codes. They’ve just seen them all over the place,” BBB of Northern Indiana Vice President Jan Diaz said.

So, how can scammers take advantage of you? One way is quite simple, but difficult to spot. A scammer may use a sticker with a QR code on it and cover an existing one that’s legit.

“The BBB is just telling consumers to make sure the code itself is appearing on something that is legitimate,” Diaz said. “For example, if you go to a restaurant, the code will appear on a card for a menu.”

QR codes might also appear in pop-up windows on websites. In some cases, it could send you to a website and demand you pay immediately. Depending on the type of payment, the scammer could use scare tactics like threatening jail time, or shutting off a service. Also, some sites could install malware on your computer.

“I like using QR codes, it’s convenient,” Diaz said. “There needs to be some caution with not taking every QR code’s legitimacy for granted.”

Diaz says another thing to look out for are QR codes on parking meters. She says that’s been one place scammers have been successful with using fake codes.

If you get scammed, here are some resources:

Do you have a scam you want us to look into? Reach out to 21Alive’s Tylor Brummett. You can send a message on Facebook or send an email to tylor.brummett@gray.tv.