Increasing QR code scams in the festive season
QR code scams are on the rise, especially during the festive season. This is because more people are using QR codes to make payments and shop online during the holidays. Scammers are taking advantage of this by creating fake QR codes that lead to malicious websites or malware.
Fraudsters are likely to leverage the increased marketing communications this festive season to scam unsuspecting consumers. What do you need to know to avoid becoming a victim.
With the festive season around the corner, financial scams and fraudulent transactions are expected to rise. According to The Future Crime Research Foundation (FCRF), a non-profit start-up incubated at the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Kanpur, there has been an increase in online financial fraud related cases, including those involving quick response (QR) codes, one-time passwords (OTPs) and debit/credit card transactions. These cases make up close to 77.5 per cent of cyber-crimes in India.
In a QR code scam, a fraudster sends potential victims a QR code that appears to be for a legitimate payment. Fraudsters then tell the receiver to scan the QR code, enter the amount they want to receive, followed by an OTP (One-Time Password). Cyber experts believe that during the upcoming festive season, consumers need to be vary of such tactics. “Whenever there is an increase in consumer offers and communications (such as during the festive season), there will always be an increase in scam activity as the volume of new messages provides fertile ground for fraudsters misrepresenting trusted brands. This should also be a time where those trusted brands educate the public on potential scams.
A report from Quick Heal Technologies, revealed that in Q2 2023 (April to June), Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune, Bengaluru and New Delhi were the top Indian cities affected by online threats. Among the Top 10 cities, Kolkata led the list with 7.08 million threats, followed closely by Mumbai with 7.00 million threats, it said. Last month, the Bengaluru police highlighted QR code scams as one of the fast emerging fraudulent activities related to online financial transactions, with over 7,000 online cases reported in the first half of this year. Last week, the Maharashtra Police also issued an advisory for citizens, cautioning them against QR code scams.
Going forward, individuals should not use QR codes posted in public or provided through non-trustworthy channels. If you think you may have been a victim of a QR code scam, change your passwords immediately and contact your bank or credit card company.
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