QR Code Scam: Why You Should Be Careful While Making UPI Payments – News18

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Last Updated: October 04, 2023, 08:00 IST

QR code scans can inadvertently make you lose money

QR codes are the easiest and secure way of making UPI payments without sharing your number but attackers have found a way to scam you.

QR codes have made digital payment easier and convenient. Some people even claim that having QR code as the payment mode helps you pay without sharing a number or asking the other person for one. However, the popularity of Unified Payments Interface (UPI) in the country has caught the eye of the attackers, who are now spoofing QR codes to fool you into making payment to the wrong bank account or UPI ID.

In fact, a recent police report in Bengaluru claimed that more than 40 per cent of cybercrime cases involved QR code scam. So, what is the issue with QR codes, how are attackers able to spoof it and how you should be careful while making UPI payments to anyone, here are the details.

According to a report by Palo Alto Networks, QR codes are mostly similar which makes it difficult to tell if you are scanning the right code or the one shared by the fraudster.

The other concern is that the attackers are able to replace the genuine QR code for a business and use their own code which can become a hub for scams and stealing money from victims. Incidents of scanner replacement fraud are on the rise, and the threat may escalate in the future,” said Vicky Ray, Principal Researcher – Unit 42 at Palo Alto Networks.

When you scan the altered QR code, chances are you open a website that is going to infect your device with malicious code or push you to download a malicious app. “Such apps typically contain viruses, spyware, trojans, or other types of malware, enabling data theft, privacy breaches, ransomware attacks, and in some instances, even crypto-mining,” as highlighted by Palo Alto Networks in its post.

QR codes have been in use for years but UPI has made them ubiquitous and since billions of rupees are transacted through UPI, it makes them an obvious target for scammers. But there is no need to be worried about this form of attack as long as you keep a check on how and who you pay the money.

How To Avoid Falling For QR Code Scam

Check if the QR code is redirecting you to the right website for payment. You can do this using QR code scanning apps that are freely available on the app store. Make sure that the app does not open the URL directly and there is a two-step process to avoid opening any malicious link. In addition to these steps, you should always download apps from trusted sources, even though Android lets you side load apps. And finally, make sure the devices and the apps are up-to-date so that you can be protected from possible security issues.

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