It’s the most wonderful time of the year, especially for scammers!

The Federal Trade Commission is sounding an alarm on QR code scams. Scammers are using these convenient links to mislead unsuspecting individuals by covering up legitimate QR codes with their own. The fraudulent code leads to a spoof website designed to steal your information or install malware.

These codes can also arrive via text message and/or email. Scammers use message like the following to prompt you to take immediate action:

  • say they couldn’t deliver your package and you need to contact them to reschedule
  • pretend there’s a problem with your account and you need to confirm your information
  • report of suspicious activity on your account, and you need to change your password

If you’re not expecting–or do not recognize–the sender, do not click.

Here are some tips to help protect yourself and your information:

  • If you see a QR code in an unexpected place, inspect the URL before you open it. If it looks like a URL you recognize, make sure it’s not spoofed — look for misspellings or a switched letter.
  • Don’t scan a QR code in an email or text message you weren’t expecting — especially if it urges you to act immediately. If you think the message is legitimate, use a phone number or website you know is real to contact the company.
  • Protect your phone and accounts. Update your phone’s OS to protect against hackers and protect your online accounts with strong passwords and multi-factor authentication.