Be careful about scanning QR codes, FBI warns

Should you scan QR codes?

QR codes might not always be a harmless way to find a menu, website or more information. In fact, the FBI has warned recently that some cybercriminals are using QR codes to scam people.

The news: The FBI released a statement in January that cybercriminals are using QR codes to steal people’s money, data and information.

What they said: “Cybercriminals are taking advantage of this technology by directing QR code scans to malicious sites to steal victim data, embedding malware to gain access to the victim’s device, and redirecting payment for cybercriminal use,” the FBI said.

  • According to the FBI, a victim will scan the QR code, thinking it's legitimate.
  • However, the code will bring the victim to a malicious website, which then prompts them to deliver information.

Why it matters: As Inc highlighted, millions of Americans saw a QR code on their television screen during the Super Bowl due to an ad from the cryptocurrency trading platform Coinbase.

  • In fact, so many people scanned the QR code that the Coinbase app crashed during the Super Bowl, The Verge reports.

The bottom line: “While QR codes are not malicious in nature, it is important to practice caution when entering financial information as well as providing payment through a site navigated to through a QR code,” according to the FBI. “Law enforcement cannot guarantee the recovery of lost funds after transfer.”