Holiday shopping scams: You may want to think twice before scanning that QR code, experts warn

Shopping online this holiday season? Here are some tips to ensure you do not fall victim to digital scammers.

ByNydia Han and Heather Grubola WPVI logo
Wednesday, December 8, 2021
You may want to think twice before scanning that QR code
Experts say digital scammers are making this holiday shopping season a real minefield.

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Before you scan that coupon QR code, keep reading. Digital scammers are making this holiday shopping season a real minefield.

There are so many ways to get scammed and while some of the cons are not new, they are harder to spot because they are repurposed or rewrapped, just in time for the holidays.

"It's tough," said cyber protection expert Alex Hamerstone.

Hamerstone said everyone must be on the lookout for fake retailer apps.

"Not only will these fake apps steal your money, but they may have access to your pictures and your contacts and other things like that," he said. "So, if you're downloading you know, an app from a store, or you know, from a media site, or whatever it is...if you're getting one of these applications, just make sure that you're confirming that it is from that company."

Also, beware of bogus coupon QR codes, which are easy to make.

"And if people take a picture, that QR code is going to open up that malicious site," he said.

They could be loaded with malware so make sure you are scanning codes from sites you know are legit.

Number three, watch out for fake shipping and order messages sent via email, text, or phone. They are simply an effort to phish for your information.

"And it's just another way to separate you from your money," he said.

And number four, watch out for two-factor authentication scams whether you are a buyer or a seller.

"So they'll say, 'Hey, I want to buy this car you're selling, I want to make sure you're real, I'm gonna send a code to your phone, you tell me what it is?' Well, what they've done is they've gone and attempted to log in your email, your bank account, or whatever triggering that to send you a code," he said.

They are trying to get you to provide that gateway to your account.

Two more tips: Use your credit card instead of your debit card. With debit, if you get scammed, your entire bank account could get drained. Your credit card offers far better protection.

Also, set up your accounts so you are notified any time a purchase is made. That way, if there is a fraudulent charge, you know about it and can address it immediately.