QR Code Scams: Alarming Threat to Online Transactions
Posted On December 12, 2023
As the Indian real estate industry continues to embrace digitalization, a new threat has emerged: QR code scams. These scams have become a pressing concern, exploiting people’s lack of awareness and digital literacy. In this blog, Save Max will help you explore the rise of QR code fraud in the Indian real estate sector and provide some essential tips to stay safe while navigating the online property market.
Table of Contents
What is a QR Code Scam?
QR code scam is a type of cyber fraud that tricks people into taking actions they did not intend to take, resulting in financial loss or the compromise of sensitive information. These scams use QR codes as a disguise to deceive people into scanning them, leading to unscrupulous activities.
In the real estate industry, scammers might send QR codes to people under false pretences, such as facilitating secure transactions or verifying property details. However, the actual intent is to gain unauthorized access to financial accounts or personal information. To avoid falling victim to these scams, it is important to exercise caution and verify the legitimacy of QR codes before scanning them.
Scams Experienced by Buyers and Sellers
When buying a property, it’s essential to be aware of various scams that can deceive buyers. Phantom Listings, where fraudsters create fake property listings, and Fake Agents, who pretend to be legitimate real estate professionals, are common scams. Title Fraud involves forging property titles, while Online Payment Scams use deceptive QR codes or manipulate payment processes. To avoid these scams, buyers should thoroughly verify listings, agents, and payment processes.
In the case of sellers, scammers may pose as buyers or tenants, forge documents, or impersonate real estate professionals to redirect funds to unauthorized accounts. It is essential to verify all involved parties, engage with reputable professionals, use secure payment methods, and exercise caution in online interactions.
Tips On What to Do –
Identify Red Flags
To avoid potential scams during online transactions, it’s essential to watch out for warning signs such as insistence on using QR code payment exclusively. Legitimate transactions offer multiple payment options, and being forced to use a single method should raise suspicion.
Be Aware of Impersonation
Be cautious of impersonation attempts, especially from individuals claiming to be defence or police personnel and urging you to scan a QR code. Authentic transactions don’t require such methods, and verifying identities is crucial to avoid scams.
Take UPI Transactions Directly
Opt for UPI transactions directly on your registered mobile number when receiving payments to avoid potential scams. Ensure that the payment process aligns with standard practices to minimize the risk of fraudulent transactions.
Visiting the Property Physically
Physically visit the property before making any financial commitments, especially for security deposits or upfront payments, to verify its legitimacy and avoid falling prey to scammers.
Report Suspicious Activities
If you notice anything suspicious or encounter a situation that raises doubts, report it immediately to your bank and the police to minimize financial losses and help authorities take swift action against cyber criminals.
Tips for What to Avoid –
Don’t Trust Impersonators
If someone claims to be defence or police personnel, verify their identity through official channels before proceeding with any transactions. Impersonation is a tactic that fraudsters commonly use to exploit trust, and staying skeptical can help you avoid scams.
Block UPI Transactions After the First Debit
If money is debited once from your account unexpectedly, do not proceed with additional transactions. Block UPI transactions immediately to prevent further unauthorized access to your funds.
Avoid Websites without HTTPS
When engaging in online transactions, especially property-related, refrain from buying or selling on websites lacking HTTPS in the domain name. HTTPS ensures a secure connection, and legitimate platforms prioritize user safety.
Verify Property Legitimacy
Before making any payments for property transactions, ensure the legitimacy of the property and the owner. Do not pay any amount upfront without physically verifying the property and confirming the authenticity of the owner.
Avoid Scanning QR Codes to Receive Payments
QR codes are designed for making payments, not receiving them. Never scan a QR code if the purpose is to receive money. Following this thumb rule significantly reduces the risk of falling victim to QR code scams.
How Do QR Scams Operate?
QR code scams are dishonest schemes that take advantage of people unaware of the risks involved in online transactions. Scammers send a QR code that looks legitimate but, when scanned, allows them to access the victim’s account and withdraw large amounts of money without the victim knowing.
These scams can happen multiple times before the victim realizes, causing significant losses. It’s essential to be cautious when engaging in online transactions, especially in real estate, where scammers take advantage of trust to carry out these schemes.
What to Do if You Get Scammed?
If you fall victim to a QR code scam, take swift action:
Report the fraud to the nearest police station with supporting documents/ screenshots.
Contact the cyber cell using the toll-free helpline number 1930 or report the fraud on the National Cybercrime Reporting Portal at www.cybercrime.gov.in.
Notify your bank immediately if funds have been debited from your account.
Safeguard your identity by blocking access to your accounts if payment information has been disclosed to fraudsters.
Save Max Real Estate believes it is crucial to stay alert and follow best practices when making online transactions to avoid QR Scams.
Cybercriminals use QR codes to gain unauthorized access to your account and steal money. Do not scan QR codes to receive money. Taking precautions and being aware of fraudulent activities can protect you from falling victim to such scams.