Don’t be a square! QR Phishing and you

QR codes have become a ubiquitous sight in the day to day interactions of most people. From restaurant menus to event tickets, these scannable codes offer convenience and efficiency. However, with the rise of QR codes comes a new form of cyber threat: QR fishing. As technology advances, so do the methods of cybercriminals seeking to exploit unsuspecting individuals. In this blog post, we’ll delve into what QR fishing is, how to recognize it, and crucially, how to protect yourself from falling victim to this type of scam.

Understanding QR Fishing

QR fishing, also known as QR code phishing, is a deceptive tactic used by cybercriminals to steal sensitive information from unsuspecting victims. Similar to traditional phishing attacks conducted via email or text messages, QR fishing relies on social engineering techniques to trick individuals into scanning malicious QR codes.

Recognizing QR Fishing

Recognizing QR fishing attempts requires a keen eye for detail and a healthy dose of skepticism. Here are some red flags to watch out for:

  1. Unsolicited QR Codes: Be wary of QR codes received from unknown sources or those encountered in unexpected places. Text messages, emails, or just QR codes on the street such as on billboards or television can all be phishing attempts from bad actors.
  2. Generic QR Codes: Legitimate businesses and organizations typically use branded QR codes that reflect their identity. Generic-looking QR codes found in unusual contexts may be indicative of a potential scam. Do not scan any code that you do not feel comfortable with.
  3. Overly Complex URLs: Before scanning a QR code, examine the URL it directs to. Suspicious URLs containing random strings of characters or misspelled domain names. All of these should raise suspicions and not be trusted.
  4. Requests for Personal Information: Legitimate QR codes should not request sensitive information such as passwords, credit card numbers, or personal details. Treat any QR code that solicits such information with extreme caution and as a threat.

Avoiding QR Fishing Scams

Protecting yourself from QR fishing scams involves adopting proactive measures and exercising caution. Here’s what you can do to minimize the risk of falling victim:

  1. Inspect QR Codes Carefully: Before scanning a QR code, scrutinize its appearance, where it came from, and context. If something seems off or out of place, refrain from scanning it. Do trust a QR code from a health provider. Don’t trust a QR code from a sticker on a light post!
  2. Use Trusted Scanning Apps: Opt for reputable QR code scanning apps from trusted sources. These apps often include built-in security features to detect and mitigate potential threats. Your phone’s camera may also come with a default app for safely scanning QR codes.
  3. Enable URL Preview: Some QR code scanning apps offer URL preview functionality, allowing users to preview the destination URL before visiting the site. Enable this feature to verify the legitimacy of the URL.
  4. Stay Informed: Stay abreast of the latest cybersecurity threats and trends. Educate yourself and others about the risks associated with QR fishing and share best practices for staying safe online. Shammam Consulting’s blog is a great resource to add to your information library in order to help stay up to date on the latest threats.
  5. Report Suspicious Activity: If you encounter a suspicious QR code or believe you’ve fallen victim to a QR fishing scam, report it to the relevant authorities or cybersecurity agencies immediately. This includes the police, FBI, or even just your company’s IT team.


In an increasingly digitized world, QR fishing represents a significant threat to individuals’ cybersecurity and privacy. By understanding what QR fishing is, how to recognize it, and taking proactive steps to mitigate risks, you can safeguard yourself against falling victim to these insidious scams. Remember, vigilance is key. Stay alert, stay informed, and stay safe in the digital landscape. For more information on staying safe from QR phishing and other cyber threats, reach out to our team at Shammam Consulting for personalized support!