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QR Codes: Convenient, Popular & an Easy Scam Target

Woman using QR code

Whether you’re grabbing a bite to eat at an airport restaurant or at a happy hour after work, chances are you’ll see a QR (quick response) code on the menu – usually a black-and-white square you scan with your phone to get right to a website or payment portal. Scammers have caught on to their increasing popularity and have started creating fake QR codes, hoping to capture your personal and financial information or download malware on your smartphone.

Sample QR Code

Okay, so how are scammers using QR codes?

Scammers can easily place fake QR code stickers right over the top of real ones – at airports, bus stations, gas stations and other public places. This scam, known as "quishing,” is particularly tricky because legitimate QR codes will sometimes ask you for information – like at a restaurant to pay your bill, for example.

How can I avoid a QR code scam?

First, inspect before you scan.

  • Does the QR code look like it’s been placed over the top of another, or is it crooked?

  • Does the ad itself have grammar and spelling mistakes?

  • Only scan QR codes in mail pieces or emails if you know they’re from a legitimate company.

If you do scan the code, examine the URL and website.

  • Does the web address align with the business?

  • Does the website look authentic?

  • Look for misspellings, changes of single letters or added numbers and characters.

  • Be extra cautious if the site asks for any personal or financial information – never enter your online banking credentials.

If you sense something’s off, take the safe route and Google the company or business to get to your destination instead.

If you think you’ve been a victim of a QR code scam, reach out to your financial institution right away. Summit members, we’re here to help at 800‑236‑5560.

Please share details with us when you hear of, or experience, a possible scam! This helps us inform and protect our members and community.

Want more fraud-fighting tips?

Keep exploring more ways to spot and stop a scam.


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