FBI issues warning after fraudulent QR codes scams in Texas

File photo shows parking meters

AUSTIN, Texas – QR Codes are in most businesses and restaurants. It’s a contactless payment option that exploded in popularity at the onset of the pandemic.

But the According to cybersecurity expert Chris Hamer there’s no way to confirm that you’re sending to the intended recipient.

“Unfortunately, until you scan it you don’t know what’s encoded in,” said Hamer.

With one scan you can either pay your dinner bill or mistakenly pay a cybercriminal.

The FBI issued a new warning this week about QR code scams and how it can put your personal information into the hands of scammers in a matter of seconds.

This week the FBI issued a public advisory about this after fraudulent QR code stickers were found in more than two dozen parking stations in Austin, Texas.

According to the Austin Police Department, those QR codes may have sent those parking payments to a fraudulent vendor instead.

Chris Hamer advises people to question everything even if it’s a trusted business or restaurant.

“It’s very easy to print up a QR code and replace it on a sticker,” said Hamer.

Chris Hamer is breaking down just how easy it is. In a matter of seconds with the help of specialized software, he’s able to make a QR code with specific instructions.

The even trickier part is that there’s no real way to tell QR codes apart.

The FBI advises checking the websites that QR codes direct them carefully. The bureau also advises people to use their phones’ app stores, rather than QR codes, to download any mobile apps.

If the establishment you’re in doesn’t have an app, Cybersecurity expert Chris Hamer says another way to protect your information is to pay on that business’s website directly or just pay in person.

About the Author:

This native of the Big Apple joined the News4Jax team in July 2021.