The FBI warns against careless handling of QR codes

QR Code

When scanning a QR code, users should check carefully if the expected website actually opens. Photo: Patrick Bloll / dpa-Zentralbild / dpa-tmn

(Photo: dpa)

– Avoid making payments on websites accessed via QR code. Rather, better ones Because square pixel codes can be tampered with in principle or have already been created with fraudulent intent, the FBI warns of the US law enforcement agency.

For example, cybercriminals have tried to lure their victims to fake websites using QR codes. There, for example, login data for services and accounts as well as sensitive financial information are stolen or payments, such as cryptocurrency transactions, are transferred.

QR codes can also download and install malware, which perpetrators use to gain access to a user’s device and data.

To avoid the QR code trap, the FBI offers the following tips:

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– When scanning a code, check if the expected website is actually opened and authentic: the address must be correct and must not contain any misspellings or mischaracters.

– If a website is about entering login data, personal information or data related to money and financial transactions, it should be extremely important if the page is accessed via a QR code.

– Avoid making payments on websites accessed via QR code. Instead, it is better to manually enter the (known and trusted) Internet address if something is going to be paid for there.

– With physical QR codes, i.e. printed QR codes, you should always make sure that you don’t paste the original code into another one.

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– If possible, do not start downloading and installing applications via QR codes, but downloading applications from official stores.

– Do not install an additional scanner app: in most cases, the smartphone camera works as a built-in browser or scanner.

– It seems that a friend or acquaintance sent a QR code? Or the company you recently bought something from is emailing you about an alleged payment failure and is now requesting a new payment via a QR code?

Either way, it’s best to pick up the phone and ask directly if the message is authentic. Warning: Do not copy the company phone number from the email, it may be fake. It is better to go to the company’s website through a search engine and look for the contact number.

FBI warning

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