We see QR Codes everywhere. Right? Common places that you might see them include websites, email newsletters, business signs on the highway, on bumper stickers. Restaurants sometimes use them to show you their menu while you are sitting at the table or at home ordering takeout. Heck, they are even on the back of cereal boxes.

Sometimes they send you to a webpage with information. Sometimes they send you to a payment page for a purchase you might be making either at home or at a local business. Musicians even use them (including me) to give audience members an easy option for tipping.

If you are not familiar with QR Codes, here is what they look like:

Wikipedia
Wikipedia
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The above QR Code, if you scan it, will take you to the English Wikipedia Mobile main page. It's completely harmless. Go ahead. Try it!

 

Sydney Pub To Accept Bitcoin Virtual Currency
Getty Images
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(Above: another way a QR Code might be legitimately used - paying your tab at your favorite bar or restaurant)

 

Generally, these QR Codes are legitimately used. However, just like with everything else that is used widely in this world, scammers have found a way to take advantage of them and YOU... if you're not careful! These scams are perpetrated all over the world, all over the U.S. including Massachusetts... And Berkshire County is certainly not immune. So, be careful.

 

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Now... the warning!

As part of a recent press release, the Better Business Bureau that serves parts of Massachusetts, Maine, Rhode Island, and Vermont, says that you do have to be careful. Scammers have caught on to the fact they people use QR Codes all the time, and they are, as always, out to get you.

Be smart!

According to the BBB and warnings issued by police departments in cities across the country, some QR codes will send users to phishing websites, fraudulent payment portals, and downloads that could infect your smartphone, tablet, or computer, with a virus or malware. And what makes it difficult to detect is that not only do these bad QR Codes come from unsolicited communications, but they are often posted in a publicly accessible location.

Some ways that QR Codes can be fraudulently used to scam you include:

 

  • Fraudulent QR codes are often placed on the back of parking meters
  • Fraudulent traders may direct investors to their digital wallets through a QR code
  • Phishing scams with a code found in an email, text, or flyer.
  • False utility or government representative claims that failure to pay an unpaid bill will result in arrest

 

And here are some ways that BBB says you can avoid being QR Code scammed:

 

  • Confirm the QR code before scanning. If you receive a QR code from a friend be sure to confirm with that person that they meant to send you the code.
  • Do not open links from strangers.
  • Be wary of short links. Suppose a shortened URL appears when hovering your camera over a QR code.
  • Check for tampering. Some scammers attempt to mislead consumers by altering legitimate business ads or placing stickers on the QR code.

 

BBB says that If you’ve been the victim of a QR scam, report it at BBB.org/ScamTracker.

 

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