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Social Security Administration warns of QR code scams

  • / Updated:
  • Digital Team 

QR codes, shorthand for Quick Response codes, have become a ubiquitous tool for accessing information, but users should exercise caution as scammers exploit their popularity. These scannable barcodes direct users to websites, but nefarious actors can manipulate them to lead unsuspecting individuals to fraudulent sites or to download malware, jeopardizing personal data.

Scammers employ various tactics, including covering authentic QR codes on parking meters, menus, or magazines with counterfeit ones, or sending QR codes via email or text, posing as delivery companies. They may also utilize imposter QR codes to solicit personal information under the guise of account verification due to purported suspicious activities. Furthermore, harmful codes may infiltrate social media advertisements.

To safeguard against such scams, individuals are advised to verify the source of QR codes before scanning, ensuring they originate from trusted and reputable entities. For instance, authentic QR codes from Social Security will consistently direct users to the secure website www.ssa.gov. Additionally, users should meticulously inspect QR codes for any signs of tampering, discrepancies in color, or spelling errors, refraining from scanning if any doubts arise.

Exercise Caution with Unsolicited SSA Communication including QR Codes

It’s crucial to exercise caution when encountering unsolicited QR codes received via email or text, particularly from unknown sources. Authentic communications from Social Security will never contain QR codes soliciting personal information via text or email.

Beware Urgent Social Security Requests via QR Codes

Scammers often employ urgent tactics, posing as government officials, to deceive individuals into making immediate payments through fake QR codes sent via text or email. Social Security unequivocally states that it never solicits payments via QR codes and urges recipients to remain vigilant.

Stay Informed to Combat SSI Fraud

Staying abreast of the latest developments in QR code fraud and scams is essential. Individuals are encouraged to follow reputable sources such as cybersecurity blogs, official government websites, and news outlets for updates and guidance.

While QR codes offer a convenient means of accessing information, vigilance is paramount to mitigate potential risks associated with their usage.

For more information, individuals can refer to the Federal Trade Commission Consumer Alert available at www.consumer.ftc.gov/consumer-alerts/2023/12/scammers-hide-harmful-links-qr-codes-steal-your-information. Suspected Social Security imposter scams can be reported to the Office of the Inspector General’s website at www.oig.ssa.gov/report. Additional resources on fraud and scams are accessible on the Protect Yourself from Scams webpage at www.ssa.gov/scam.

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