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Scam of the Month


The FTC warns us about QR Code Scams. Be sure you know where the code is sending you before you go there. Here are two programs you can use to prevent being sent someplace nefarious.

FTC Warns of QR Code Scams

QR codes like this sample from QRPlanet.com are ubiquitous. However the FTC is warning about their dangers and Trellix Security company found 60,000 samples of QR code attacks in just the third quarter of this year.

This perfectly safe QR code from QRPlanet.com simply shows: http://qr.mycompany.com. It is a phony site, but you can use it to test your phone's QR code processing.

You often don't know where that QR code is sending you. There are reports, for example, of miscreants putting their malware QR code over the real ones at parking lots to capture your payments, or to gather information from restaurant menus. Clearly, any email or postal mail with a QR code should not be used unless you are sure you trust the place they are sending you. Even if the sender is legitimate, is the advertiser with the QR code?

The Solution

The solution isn't too hard. Don't let unknown people send you to an unknown place! However, how are we to know where they are sending us? It all depends on your phone's camera. iPhones automatically show the destination and so do a few Android phones. Test your phone on the code above. Sadly, most phone cameras do not provide the destination first, then ask you if you want to go there. For those with imperfect QR code readers in their phones, we have two excellent free programs that will do the job well.

Two Good Programs

These two programs are safe, good quality free programs to help protect you from QR code scams.

Denso's QRQR Code reader app is excellent, very fast and easy to use. However, if you use it, you should change the default setting to ask for confirmation before just opening the site. It will then display the address and request either to open in an installed chrome-based browser or to copy the URL to paste into another browser like Firefox. Available at both Apple store and Google Play.

TrendMicro also has a good QR Code scanner you can trust. It is slower and less complete than Denso's QRQR, but has the advantage of automatically displaying the URL then checking it against a blocklist of known malware sites. It is slower because of the checking online with their current blocklist. TrendMicro is a known high quality security company. If you aren't in a super rush, then it is nice to have the added protection of TrendMicro's check against known malware sites.

Further reading:

Date: January 2024

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