Do not scan the QR code to “receive” money

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Posted: Date Posted – 12:45 AM, Tue – Jun 28, 22

The country is rapidly moving towards a cashless economy as digital transactions have made life easier by eliminating the need to travel to pay cash. Simply connect to the internet and NEFT or RTGS transactions are made through a short-term payment called Unified Payment Interface (UPI), offered by the National Payment Corporation of India (NPCI).

UPI has become one of the most popular payment gateways. Simply scan a Quick Response (QR) code and enter a four-digit PIN to authorize a financial transaction, and the entire transaction is completed in seconds. Many payment apps using QR codes are Google Pay, Paytm, PhonePe, BHIM, Mobi Kwik, Payz, Razorpay etc.

A QR code is a scannable barcode encoded with data. However, fraudsters are now taking this convenience as an opportunity and creating their own QR codes to steal personal information and money from gullible victims.

Shopping QR Code Scan Fraud

Many crimes are committed through phishing calls, text messages/emails or social networks. Scammers have now changed their modus operandi to QR code scanning fraud, and let’s discuss how QR code fraud happens. Victims lose money as soon as they scan the code, not knowing that scanning the code loses money.

* Step 1: On online marketplaces and classifieds portals, most advertise the purchase or sale of a used car, bicycle, etc. As soon as he sees the advertisement, he poses as a potential buyer, negotiates the price and seeks all information, and also asks for the bank account and related details.

* Step 2: The scammer calls you and tells you he is unable to pay the bank, citing technical details, and engages you in a hasty phone conversation before sending the QR code and asking you to scan it.

* Step 3: The scammers keep talking to you and divert your attention so that you can think of nothing but receiving the money. According to the instructions of the potential buyer (fraudster), the victim scans the QR code, assuming that the QR scan will earn you money. But the money is debited instead of credited.

QR code scanning scams

* One method is to send text messages such as “Congratulations on winning Rs 5,00,000, with an image of a QR code.” The message will prompt the victim to scan the code and enter the amount, followed by a UPI PIN to receive the money into the account.

* Another method is to use fake QR codes in phishing emails, text messages or social media posts. After scanning the QR code, users are assured of refunds or offers, where the victim can be asked to scan the QR code to receive funds

* A fake QR code may direct you to a website that may install malware on your smartphone or laptop or try to trick them into entering credit or debit card information or stealing others sensitive personal data.

* Buyer from online marketplace and classifieds portals asks you to send the item before paying or provides false proof of payment.

How to stay safe

Remember that QR codes are usually used to pay money and there is no way to receive money through the process. If someone asks you to scan a code to receive money, it’s probably a scam.

* If you receive an SMS asking you to send money, do not continue

* If the buyer insists that you fill in a PIN, stop interacting with the buyer

* NEVER enter your PIN

* Go the extra mile to report a seller or listing you think is a scammer

* Never call the customer support numbers posted on Google; Look for the emails and phone numbers mentioned in the respective portals and apps.

*As UPI payments can link multiple bank accounts, try to use limited personal bank accounts to avoid being a victim, using salary account is not suggested.

What to do in case of QR code fraud

* Be sure to take screenshots of fraudulent transactions and report them on the respective e-commerce portals or apps.

* Register a complaint at https://cybercrime.gov.in/ or contact nearby police stations to file a complaint. Alternatively, victims can call the 1930 hotline, which is run and operated by state police officers.

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