Safeguard Against QR Code Fraud: Protect Your Bank Account and Personal Data from Scams

Over the past few years, our lives have significantly simplified due to the advent of the internet. From online shopping to digital payments, almost everything can now be done with just a few clicks. 

When you head to the market, transactions increasingly involve the use of QR codes for payments instead of cash or cards. While this simplicity is appreciated, it also comes with its share of challenges. Consequently, the digital marketplace, along with digital conveniences, has been on the rise.

QR Code Scam Unveiled: A Cyber Fraud Incident in Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh

Recently, a significant fraud related to digital payments has come to light – the QR code scam. In Bilaspur, Chhattisgarh, cyber criminals duped a physically challenged individual into a transaction worth thousands of rupees using QR codes

The victim, who was physically disabled, had advertised his bicycle for sale on OLX. Exploiting the situation, the cyber criminals finalized the deal over the phone and requested an advance payment via QR code. Consequently, they managed to siphon off ₹32,000 from the bank account of the disabled person.

QR code stands for ‘Quick Response’, implying its sole purpose of providing a quick response. However, this rapidity can sometimes lead to fraudulent activities. With a little caution, one can avoid falling victim to such scams, even when dealing with seemingly genuine individuals who request QR code payments.

Understanding QR Code Safety Measures: Insights from Cyber Expert Rahul Mishra (Uttar Pradesh Police)

Before delving into QR code security measures, let’s understand a few basics:

  • Design Characteristics: QR codes typically have a square shape with a unique arrangement of black squares on a white background.
  • Data Stored: They can store various types of data, including URLs, content details, bank details, or other types of data.
  • Alignment Patterns: QR codes feature three small squares at the corners, called alignment patterns, which help in position marking.
  • Data Zone: Within a QR code, there’s a data zone where information, such as bank details, is concealed.
  • Decoding Process: QR codes require only a camera and a compatible app to decode.
  • Versatility: Unlike UPC (Universal Product Code) barcodes, QR codes can store more information.

Question: How do Cyber Criminals Perpetrate QR Code Scams?

A significant issue with QR codes is that until scanned, people aren’t aware of what will open on their mobile phones. Cyber criminals exploit this vulnerability by sending fake QR codes through various channels such as fake websites or social media platforms. When scanned, these codes can redirect users to a link where money can be instantly stolen from their bank accounts.

Moreover, some counterfeit QR codes are embedded within genuine ones. When someone scans these QR codes, they are transferred to another site where their information can be easily hacked, leading to a QR code scam.

Cyber expert Rahul Mishra highlights that many cyber fraudsters often contact individuals after they list their products on major online platforms like OLX or Quikr. They express their desire to purchase the product and request advance payment through QR codes. Many people fall victim to these scams without verifying the QR code’s authenticity and end up compromising their finances and personal information.

Question: What precautions should be taken when making payments through QR codes?

Cyber expert Rahul Mishra advises that one should avoid scanning any unknown QR codes.

In addition to this, you can follow these tips:

  1. If a QR code automatically opens a website when scanned, immediately cancel the action.
  2. Avoid downloading QR code scanner apps from any website. This increases the risk of malware being downloaded onto your mobile device. Most smartphones have an inbuilt scanner in the camera app.
  3. Always keep your smartphone screen locked when not in use.
  4. Never share your UPI PIN with any website or unknown individual.
  5. Use a strong password to secure your account.
  6. If you notice any suspicious activity on your phone, account, or any digital platform, immediately contact your bank and reset your password.
  7. When scanning QR codes posted at restaurants or public places, ensure that there are no alterations or stickers on the original code.

Question: What should be done if someone becomes a victim of QR code fraud?

If you have become a victim of QR code fraud, first contact your bank and temporarily freeze your account. Failing to do so promptly may result in cybercriminals extracting more money from your account.

If the QR code came from a website where you entered your sensitive information and password, immediately change your password. QR codes sent from websites can be fraudulent.

Change all your account passwords to be nearly identical. Ensure that passwords are unique and complex. Avoid using common passwords like birthdates or anniversaries.

If someone is attempting cyber fraud through any website, online marketplace, or app, you can report it to their customer care service.

You can file a complaint about cyber fraud at your local police station or dial 1930.

Additionally, report the incident to the cyber cell of your district or file an online complaint on the portal.

Akash Shrivastav

My name is Akash Shrivastav, and I am a Blogger. I have 8 years of experience in blogging for Finance, Business, Investment, Stock Market, Cryptocurreny and more. Through my writing, I aim to provide readers with insightful and informative content.