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Humanising Finance
February 2019
How to beat QR Code scams

How to beat QR Code scams

Gone are the days when cash was king. Digital payments, mobile wallets and apps are now dominating the payment landscape. Singapore's usage of mobile payments grew by 53% in 2018 alone, as compared to 2017, according to a study by J.D. Power Singapore.

Catching on strong in the payment market is the QR code, a technology that is already widely used in Japan and China. A QR code is essentially a barcode that is readable by a smartphone camera and stores information such as a website, contact information or images.

However, scammers have taken to creating fraudulent QR codes to steal sensitive information. In these instances, scammers replace the original image to divert users to malicious websites that look almost identical to the genuine ones and request for their personal information or account details.

While it is visually impossible to differentiate a malicious QR code from an authentic one, there are ways to protect yourself from QRishing scams.
1. Look out for signs of tampering
So far, the only way scammers have tampered with QR codes is by replacing an authentic QR code with a sticker or replacing them with false posters. As QR codes are displayed in public areas for easy scanning, phishers are able to easily print and replace a QR code without drawing the attention of vendors. Always check the QR code to ensure it is not covering another code.
2. Verify the merchant's details and URL
When scanning a QR code, ensure that the merchant's name is genuine before proceeding. You should also verify the complete URL (web address) to make sure that it is the intended website.

If you are asked to install a mobile application after scanning the code, check that the links, publisher and requested permission details are bona fide before proceeding with the installation.
3. Do not key in information if the QR code redirects you to another website
Never disclose any personal information or account login details until you have verified that the website is legitimate. Scammers often lure users in with attractive promotions or advertisements, and create a fake website that requires users to enter their login or credit card details.
4. Install security applications on your mobile devices
Users may also click on a malicious URL embedded in the QR code. Such malware can steal sensitive information stored in the device without the user's knowledge. To protect your mobile devices, install an anti-virus or anti-malware mobile security application. In this era of data breaches, it is necessary to take extra precaution.
For more security tips, you can visit Maybank's Security Advisory.
Disclaimer: This message is for general knowledge or information only. It is not an offer or invitation to buy or sell securities, futures or other products or services. Our products or services vary in different jurisdictions, subject to their respective terms and conditions and the licences our affiliates and us hold. This message is not an advice or recommendation for any financial planning, investment, legal, tax or other purposes and, accordingly, no responsibility or liability is assumed by us or our affiliates, whether directly or indirectly, from any person taking or not taking action.
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