Scammers use QR codes to steal credit card information from parking meters

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City leaders across the country are warning drivers not to use QR codes taped to parking bollards. These QR codes are easily forged, and it appears that scammers have used them to absorb unsuspecting people’s parking fees, as well as their credit card information, in some of the largest cities in the United States.

QR code scam hits parking lots in Texas cities of Austin, Houston and San Antonio Last week. Drivers who scanned the QR code were directed to a now defunct website with the additional fraudulent name, KXAN reported. They were then asked to enter their credit card information and pay for their parking using a fake site:

“We don’t use QR codes at all for this reason because they’re easy to tamper with or place on devices,” Redfern said. “And we’ve heard from industry leaders that would be a possibility.”

Redfern said city leaders were first made aware of the fake QR parking meter codes parking in San Antonio, before heading to Austin. Payment is only accepted directly at the meter or through the Park ATX smartphone app, not a QR code, the agency said.

Austin police are investigating the stickers, and employees of the Austin Department of Transportation are recheck the 900 self-checkouts around the city to remove the remaining fraudulent QR code stickers. San Antonio police, who first discovered the QR codes, are asking anyone affected by the scam to file a police report and lock up write down their credit card information immediately. It appears officials in the affected cities are also urging drivers to challenge any parking tickets they may have received as a result of the scam.

The easiest way to protect yourself from such a scam is to never enter credit card information on an untrusted website. and that includes those you reached via QR code. QR codes are ridiculously easy to fake, which is why you won’t find any city using them to accept payments. Most cities, for example — certainly very big ones like Houston and Austin — have specific secure parking payment applications as well as terminals that accept payment. It’s such an easy scam that the police are already alerting the public to the possibility of it happening in their town, like Boston police did yesterday.

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