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QR Code Scams: Frequently Asked Questions


What are QR code scams and how can you help prevent them?

QR codes offer a quick and easy way to share links, saving users the hassle of typing out long web addresses. While QR codes are convenient to find web addresses, scammers are increasingly using them to commit fraud. Here’s what you need to know about QR code scams and how you can prevent falling victim to them.

What are QR codes?

QR codes, or quick response codes, are square digitized barcodes most commonly used to communicate website links (Hayes, 2024).

How do QR codes work?

QR codes store information in pixels on a square grid and are scanned using a smartphone camera. While barcodes store information on a horizontal line, QR codes store information both horizontally and vertically, making it possible for them, “to hold significantly more data” (Ruoti, 2022).

What are QR code scams?

A QR code scam occurs when a QR code directs a user to a malicious links to gain personal information.

What are some examples of QR code scams?

Examples of QR scams include the following:

  • Account issues. If you receive a call instructing you to scan a QR code to verify your online banking account login, claiming you are having account issues, it is a scam (Puig, 2023).
  • Sticker scams. Some scammers place a sticker with a malicious QR code over a legitimate QR code that is advertised by a business (O'Donnell, 2022).
    Parking meter scams. If you see a QR code on a parking meter with directions to pay for your parking, it may be a scam (Know Be4, 2023).
  • “Quishing” scams. QR code phishing, or “quishing” scams, occur when scammers send phishing emails posing as a legitimate business. Scammers will instruct users to scan a QR code that takes users to a malicious page asking for personal information (Microsoft, 2023).
  • Suspicious packages. Another type of QR code scam occurs with unexpected packages. Recipients of these packages are instructed to scan a QR code to return the product. The QR code then brings the victim to a page that collects sensitive personal information, such as credit card information (Microsoft, 2023).
  • Charity scams. Another common QR code scam is a charity scam. A fraudster may circulate flyers for a good cause, but instead of including a QR code to a legitimate website, it will link to a malicious page that asks for personal information (Microsoft, 2023).
  • Crypto and payment scams. Scammers steal money from victims by directing them to send cryptocurrency or an online payment to an account linked by a QR code. These payments are almost impossible to trace and recover. (Microsoft, 2023).

How can I prevent QR code scams?

Prevent QR code scams by taking the following precautions:

  • Preview the QR code link for misspellings and an unknown domain (Know Be4, 2023).
  • Don’t give away personal information on site linked by QR code (Know Be4, 2023).
  • Download a QR code reviewer (O'Donnell, 2022).
  • Verify the website a QR code is directing you to visit (Microsoft, 2023).
  • Check to see if a sticker is placed over an advertisement (Microsoft, 2023).
  • Only open codes from people or businesses you know and trust (Microsoft, 2023).
  • Set limits on your external transfers, Zelle payments, and paper checks.

What do I do if I’m a victim to a QR code scam?

  • Call the bank to alert us that your account is compromised.
  • Change your online banking profile password.
  • Report the scam to the FTC at

Further Reading

Hayes, A. (2024, February 29). Quick Response (QR) Code: Definition and How QR Codes Work. Retrieved from Investopedia:

Know Be4. (2023, June 16). QR Codes: Safe Scanning ‎. Retrieved from Know Be4:

Microsoft. (2023, July 9). Five common QR code scams. Retrieved from Microsoft:

O'Donnell, A. (2022, September 30). How to Protect Yourself From Malicious QR Codes. Retrieved from Life Wire:

Puig, A. (2023, December 6). Scammers hide harmful links in QR codes to steal your information. Retrieved from Federal Trade Commission:

Ruoti, S. (2022, April 13). How do QR codes work—and what makes them dangerous. Retrieved from Fast Company:



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