Just what are those squares? They are in shop windows, and newspapers, on packaging and posters.
They are called Quick Response (QR) codes, an outgrowth of barcodes that have become an integral part of retail record-keeping.
QR codes take advantage of growing consumer use of smart phone technology. Free apps allow users to capture the image of a QR code which in turn, converts that information into a coupon or business card, launches an email, links to a website or even launches a "how to" video.
The sky is the limit with this marketing technology and information delivery tool. In the coming months consumers can expect to see these graphic squares appearing on luggage, “for sale” signs, games, menus, t-shirts and more.
The technology that generates QR codes is available free online, and that has put it into the hands of scammers.
Like any technology that involves “invisible”
Because QR codes are increasingly being used in on-the-street marketing, Connecticut Better Business Bureau recommends consumers and businesses use caution with rogue QR codes to avoid becoming a victim:
Understand the potential dangers – While browser-based phishing and spyware require the user to click on a hyperlink or enter a URL, a QR code can execute a program simply by being scanned. You may not know that your reader has captured a malicious QR code until it is too late.
Verify the Source – Exercise caution before capturing a QR code from an unknown source. These can include QRs on printed flyers in public places and in email attachments. Although a flyer may offer a tremendous deal on goods or services, its QR code may turn an “opportunity”
Check the label – A scammed QR code label can easily be generated on a sticker and placed over legitimate QR codes to launch an ID theft attack. Take a close look before snapping a QR code on a flyer or shop window in the street.
Be cynical – A QR code that asks you to sign up for a service may be phishing for personal information that can be sent to a cybercriminal once that information is entered. Be wary if a QR code takes you to a website and encourages you to create a login profile or enter credit card or other personal information.
Protect your device – Purchase security software for your smart-phone, tablet or other mobile device to protect your personal information.
More information on safe technology use can be found at http://ct.bbb.org/
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Founded in 1928, Connecticut BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. For more advice on finding companies and businesses, start your search with trust at www.bbb.org.