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Cybersafety: NITDA warns consumers against fraudsters exploiting QR codes

*The National Information Technology Development Agency cautions digital consumers against Phishing scammers, who can generate QR codes pointing to malicious applications or phishing Web sites to steal their vital information

Gbenga Kayode | ConsumerConnect

As part of measures to protect consumers against vulnerabilities in the country’s digital space, the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) has warned that fraudsters are now exploiting QR codes to deceive unsuspecting users.

NITDA noted the QR codes’ speed and convenience in accessing information and taking action have made them a veritable tool exploited by scammers for fraudulent activities in cyberspace.

The Information Technology (IT) sector regulatory agency stressed the fraudsters are using these codes for phishing scams, payment fraud, data theft, and identity theft.

NITDA affirmed the implications of these codes on consumers vary depending on the approach taken by the scammers.

The agency further said: “Phishing scammers can generate QR codes that point to malicious applications or phishing Web sites.

“Users scan these codes thinking they are genuine and end up having their information stolen.”

It noted: “Scammers can create QR codes that start illicit transactions or reroute payments to their accounts rather than to the intended recipients. “Threat actors may embed malicious payloads like malware or data-stealing scripts within QR codes.”

The agency also explained: “By exploiting security vulnerabilities in users’ devices, they can steal private documents, financial information, and passwords among other sensitive data.

“Users’ personal information, including names, addresses, and contact details, can be collected using QR codes inserted in fake advertisements or online surveys.

“This information can then be exploited for identity theft or other targeted frauds.”

NITDA, therefore, urged consumers to be cautious of scanning QR codes as a precaution and to only use reputable QR code scanning apps with built-in security features.

The IT sector regulator as well suggested that consumers regularly update their devices with the latest antivirus software and security patches to help in guarding against the fraud actors in the digital ecosystem.

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