QR Code Scams: How to Scan Safely & What to Do If You Get Conned

Don't lose your money or personal information.

A woman looks at her phone.
What to Do If You've Been Targeted by a COVID Scam

QR codes jumped in popularity during the pandemic. You may have seen them used at restaurants to help cut down on close contact, available for customers to scan and see the menu on their own phone. But just as helpful as that is, QR codes can easily be used by scammers to get personal information or money from the user. With more and more businesses and people using QR codes, how can you know they are safe for you to scan? Here are three tips for making sure the code is safe to use, plus what to do if you do end up getting scammed.

Check Before You Scan

If you're somewhere like a restaurant, you may find the QR code in a plastic stand or something similar. Check it out a little more closely before scanning. If you see any evidence of tampering or any attempts to alter or paste over the original, don't scan the code you see.

Verify the Website

If you do scan, look at the URL of the website that loads. Make sure it matches the website for the business you're at. If it doesn't match exactly, you're probably at a phony page that's trying to get access to your information or phone. Exit the page right away.

Don't Use Them to Pay Bills

Don't do important work like paying bills using QR codes. If the company is savvy enough to create a QR code, then they definitely have online bill paying as well. Go straight to their website or pay portal to be safe.

If You Got Scammed...

1. Contact the Bank or Credit Card

Immediately call your bank or credit card — or wherever the money came from if you made a transaction — and tell them you've been scammed. They can help you stop the payment and get your money back if that's possible. They can also help you protect your money from further fraud.

2. Protect Your Identity

The FTC can also help you watch for any identity theft with your personal information. Click here to tell them what happened and get a personalized plan to protect yourself and monitor your information.

3. Report

Tell the authorities about what happened. Report it to the FBI's internet crimes complaint center here.

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