Not really sure what QR codes are? Well they look something like this:
Familiar? You’ve probably seen them in magazines, on the screen during X Factor, on the back of your Salt & Vinegar crisps or in your Facebook feed.
QR codes are those strange little black and white patterned squares that are designed to provide smartphone users with promotion details by linking them to a website just by a quick scan. Code readers are freely available to download for all smartphones these days.
Similar to barcodes at a supermarket, these codes offer companies the opportunity to instantly communicate with consumers. So, how do they do this?
Quick Response (QR) codes contain information from digital or printed media and instantly put it in to your mobile just by a quick scan. Simple, right? Not exactly. These little squares hide a big secret...
A quick question: can you tell which of these codes links to the official Pepsi website?
Not a clue? Tricky isn’t it! (Answer: it’s the one on the right)
The general design behind QR codes makes it impossible to distinguish one from another just by looking at them. So, this means that anyone anywhere can replace legitimate codes for brands with codes that could potentially charge you for the scan.
The consequences of scanning corrupt QRs include nasty viruses, malware or malicious codes that record your personal information, your location and your bank account numbers.
Corrupt QRs are everywhere! e-Criminals are fooling users into scanning bad QR codes by putting stickers over an advertisement's legitimate QR code. They’re also printing up fake ads and flyers, and posting them around local communities with tempting headlines.
Our advice: common sense is the best defence. Don't scan just any old QR codes. If you have to ask yourself who might have made this code then it's best to leave it alone, even if you miss out on a dodgy discount.