Don't Let Your Guard Down When Scanning That QR Code, Expert Warns

You may not realize that your mobile device is a treasure trove of data to a scammer

NBC Universal, Inc.

QR codes are becoming popular with businesses. They offer a convenient and touchless way to share information and are popping up on product packaging, in parking garages and restaurants. 

But don’t let your guard down when using them. 

“You don’t just click around without thinking about it on your computer, so if you’re doing it on your phone you should treat it the same way,” said Hank Schless, senior manager of security solutions with Lookout. 

Fake QR codes are a way for hackers to get your personal information, he said. 

“In my opinion, the biggest risk with them is people actually creating fake [QR codes] and pasting them over a real one,” Schless said. 

Whether you want to dim or dazzle with your holiday lights, smart plugs may help. Consumer Reports has tips.

To protect yourself, you should avoid blindly scanning QR codes. Always consider the source first and if you can, inspect the code itself to see if anyone has tampered with it. 

“If you are going to scan the QR code,” said Schless, “take that first look, take that split second that we don’t like to do on our phones because we do things so fluidly, to just observe the URL and make sure it at least seems legitimate before tapping the notification.” 

You may not realize that your mobile device is a treasure trove of data to a scammer. 

“If someone is going to create a malicious QR code, they are intentionally targeting your smart phone,” said Schless. “You don’t want anyone to have access to that banking data, your shopping data, your health care information, it’s amazing how much these devices know about us.” 

You may also want to consider adding security software to your phone, like you have on your computer, which could help protect your information. 

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