FBI Warns of QR Code Scam

QR codes, the barcode-style tech that has offered a speedy alternative to writing down personal details at events and venues and has been used by governments around the world in their accelerated contact-tracing efforts, have a security issue and authorities have warned of scams targeting the public.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) has warned the public of scammers altering the QR codes that are being used to facilitate transactions and check-ins around the country amid the pandemic.

"A victim scans what they think to be a legitimate code, but the tampered code directs victims to a malicious site, which prompts them to enter login and financial information. Access to this victim information gives the cybercriminal the ability to potentially steal funds through victim accounts," the notice reads.

The Bureau admitted tracing attacks back to the source was tricky, warning that law enforcement cannot guarantee the recovery of lost funds after transfer.

A report out of Texas claimed fraudulent codes had been placed on more than 25 parking stations in the city of Austin.

"People attempting to pay for parking using those QR codes may have been directed to a fraudulent website and submitted payment to a fraudulent vendor," the Austin Police Department said when it announced its investigation.

While the problem is yet to officially sweep Australia or New Zealand, people have been warned to stay vigilant about scanning codes, given the increasing risk of scammers collecting personal data or payments made to an otherwise trusted location.