NITDA issues fresh warning to Nigerians, says scammers now using QR codes for fraud

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has warned Nigerians to be wary of scanning QR codes as scammers are now using them to defraud users.

The NITDA gave the warning in a statement issued on Saturday, March 30, 2024.

According to the agency, bad actors are now using QR codes for phishing scams, payment fraud, as well as data theft. NITDA said the QR codes are also being used for identity thefts.

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A QR code is a machine-readable code consisting of an array of black and white squares, typically used for storing URLs or other information for reading by the camera on a smartphone.

“QR codes, while fast and convenient for quick access to information and actions, have unfortunately become a tool exploited by scammers for fraudulent activities. These activities take various forms and are designed to lure unsuspecting users into scanning them.

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“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” the agency said.

According to NITDA, scammers utilize QR codes in various ways to achieve their nefarious goals.

It highlighted the various ways by saying; “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.

“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.

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“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.”

To guard against falling victim to scammers, NITDA advised users of QR codes to be wary of scanning codes from unfamiliar sources or unsolicited messages. It also urged users to verify the legitimacy of QR codes and associated links before scanning them.

According to NITDA, using reputable QR code scanning apps with built-in security features and updating devices with the latest antivirus software and security patches could also help in safeguarding QR code users.

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