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BBB warns consumers of a sharp increase in QR code parking scams


August 01, 2023

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BBB warns consumers of a sharp increase in QR code parking scams

The North American Better Business Bureau has been warning consumers that scammers are exploiting QR code payment methods in parking lots across the US.

The consumer protection agency says people have flocked to its scam tracker tool to report that they got scammed while trying to pay for parking through car park payment machines.

In its notice, the agency describes how scammers set up prominent QR codes on parking payment machines that direct users to fraudulent websites that initially charge a small amount to their credit card, making individuals believe they were only charged for the service.

However, a few weeks after paying, the users get recurring charges from an unrelated company.

“You don’t receive proof of parking, but you may notice a small amount charged to your credit card,” the BBB said. “You assume that you’ve been charged for parking.”

“Tactic: A giant (very large size = 3'x5') QR code was posted in a downtown Dallas, TX public parking lot, which appeared to be how you should access paying for parking in this parking lot,” one user explained. “QR Code: takes you to [redacted] where you enter your credit card information --thinking you are paying for parking-- when you are actually subscribing to a payment of $39.95 each month (as I found out when the $39.95 charge showed up on the credit card statement).”

Another person reported a fraudulent QR code on a cardboard sign near a hiking trail:

“Presented in a QR code on a cardboard sign to ‘pay for parking’ at the head of a hiking trail. This was actually a scam to sign up for an entertainment website including music and videos, charging $39.95 per month on my credit card.”

Another victim told the BBB he had to cancel his card after being charge nearly $150 dollars:

“I scanned to pay parking but received no proof of parking, Then a 1.98 charge on Feb 9th, day of parking attempt. Then a $49.99 charge of 2-14-23, 3-14-23 and 4-14-23. Tried calling and emailing with no luck. So have to cancel card.”

How can you protect against fraudulent QR code scams in parking lots

  • Use the parking meter to pay instead of scanning the QR codes you see in parking lots.
  • Closely inspect the parking meter for signs of tampering. Fraudsters often place QR stickers on top of legitimate ones.
  • Be wary of URL-shortened links as they could hide a fraudulent URL that does not belong to the car park service.
  • Install a security solution that will block fraudulent and malicious links you may unwittingly access.

Stay Safe!




Alina is a history buff passionate about cybersecurity and anything sci-fi, advocating Bitdefender technologies and solutions. She spends most of her time between her two feline friends and traveling.

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