However, most people are not aware of the fact that when you scan a QR code, your digital information gets saved as well. While tech experts have raised privacy concerns over QR transactions, in the last two years, QR code-related scams have also gone up in the country. We spoke to restaurateurs and tech experts to understand how to safely scan QR code.
CAN A QR CODE BE HACKED?
Jasmeet Banga, founder of Pirates of Grill, says, “QR codes are static images that can’t be hacked but can be replaced. The biggest risk from QR codes is that you don’t know what the code will resolve until you’ve scanned it. QR codes are being used to pay for a variety of goods and services, where the user simply scans a QR code with their banking app. A fraudster could create a QR code that would transfer `100 to their account when scanned and place it over a QR code for a `1 item. Customers are advised to not point their phone at a QR code if it is not coming from a trustable source.”
‘ENSURE YOUR PAYMENT IS GOING TO THE RIGHT PERSON’
Rakshit Tandon, cybersecurity advisor to police departments, says, “You have to ensure payment is going to the right person. Some time back, some fraudsters created an exact clone fake payment process at a petrol pump and no one was able to detect the fraud for almost a day when all payments were sent to another account. Hence, as a customer, when you are paying you should double-check your display screen to ensure that you’re opening the correct website. By being vigilant, people can avoid being scammed.”
REMEMBER, YOU CAN ONLY MAKE PAYMENTS USING QR CODEs, NOT RECEIVE THEM
Though QR codes are a convenient mode of transaction, they can be misused by cybercriminals when people are not vigilant.
QR code fraud is on the rise in India. The cases usually involve fraudsters telling people they’ll receive money on scanning a QR code. However, one can only make – not receive – payments using QR codes. In April, SBI issued an alert asking people to not scan QR codes shared by anyone unless they’re making a payment. In addition to this, experts caution that one should not share PIN, OTP, etc with anyone, while making payments through QR code.
PRIVACY CONCERNS RELATED TO QR CODES
So, what kind of digital footprint can you leave behind on scanning a QR code? As per a Bloomberg report, “On
sophisticated websites, restaurants are able to tell how many people are looking at their menus, for how long; where their eyes linger and whether people ever scroll down to dessert. Restaurants can use the information
they glean online to influence their food offerings or fine-tune the order of the food they list.”
Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union, told the New York Times, “People don’t
understand that when you use a QR code, it inserts the entire apparatus of online tracking between you and your meal. Suddenly your offline activity of sitting down for a meal has become part of the online advertising empire.”
Sunny Nehra, a Delhi-based cyber expert, adds, “QR is short for ‘quick response code’. Users should know that QR code tracks you – it saves your location, the number of times the code is scanned, and the operating system of your device (iPhone or Android).”
However, when it comes to criminal cases or scams, DCP Cyber Crime, Delhi Police, says that there is no privacy or safety issue with QR codes, adding, “The frauds that we are seeing are typical social engineering ones, where it’s not the system, but the mind that is being manipulated.”
With inputs from Divya Kaushik