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Scammers Exploit QR Codes for Fraudulent Activities, NITDA Warns


National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has issued a cautionary alert to Nigerians regarding the potential risks associated with scanning QR codes, as scammers increasingly exploit this technology for fraudulent activities.

QR codes (or Quick Response codes) are two-dimensional codes that you can scan with a smartphone.

In a statement, NITDA highlighted the alarming trend of bad actors leveraging QR codes for phishing scams, payment fraud, data theft, and identity theft, urging users to exercise vigilance and caution when interacting with QR codes.

“QR codes, while fast and convenient for quick access to information and actions, have unfortunately become a tool exploited by scammers for fraudulent activities,” NITDA emphasized.

“The implications of these codes on users vary depending on the approach taken by the Scammer Impact QR codes can be exploited by malicious actors to deceive unsuspecting users and perpetrate fraudulent activities.”

According to NITDA, scammers utilize various tactics to deceive unsuspecting users, ranging from generating QR codes that lead to malicious applications or phishing websites to embedding malware or data-stealing scripts within QR codes.

“Phishing scammers can generate QR codes that point to malicious applications or phishing websites. Users scan these codes thinking they are genuine and end up having their information stolen,” NITDA explained.

“Scammers can create QR codes that start illicit transactions or reroute payments to their accounts rather than to the intended recipients.

“Threat actors may embed malicious payloads like malware or data-stealing scripts within QR codes. By exploiting security vulnerabilities in users’ devices, they can steal private documents, financial information, and passwords among other sensitive data.

“Users’ personal information, including names, addresses, and contact details can be collected using QR codes inserted in fake advertisements or online surveys. This information can then be exploited for identity theft or other targeted frauds.”

Furthermore, NITDA cautioned users against falling victim to illicit transactions or identity theft facilitated by QR codes, emphasizing the importance of verifying the legitimacy of QR codes and associated links before scanning them.

To mitigate the risk of QR code-related scams, NITDA recommended several preventive measures, including exercising caution when scanning codes from unfamiliar sources or unsolicited messages, using reputable QR code scanning apps with built-in security features, and ensuring devices are updated with the latest antivirus software and security patches.

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