Only scan QR codes at trusted businesses

Maffra resident Emily Payne scans a QR code to enter Woolworths.

Josh Farrell

Scammers are continuing to inundate the phones of local residents with phoney texts and calls, ranging from things such as parcel deliveries, to job offers and pretend voicemails.
The spike in scams have caused many residents to speculate that whether QR code scanning is the cause of these greater numbers of scam texts.
Scammers contacting individuals is not new — they have been targeting email addresses for more a decade in an attempt to swindle potential victims out of thousands of dollars or to steal identities.
Speaking with Gippsland Times, a local IT technician said scammers targeting QR codes was not new, but had come to the fore throughout the pandemic as many businesses required patrons to check in upon arrival.
He said it was important for those utilising QR codes, to be cautious.
“It can certainly be malicious if the QR code is placed somewhere that is not a trusted location (a shopping centre not affiliated with any particular company, social media posts, etc),” he said.
But the flaw in the system is not the QR codes themselves, according to the IT technician.
“I think there is a large proportion of people who may just scan a QR code just to see where it takes them,” he said.
“Therein lies a basic flaw — the human element.”
He said there were a number of things people could do to better protect themselves from breaches to their security.
“Like everything in regard to security, don’t open unsolicited emails, don’t answer unknown numbers from regions that seem strange and don’t scan QR codes, if you can’t check their legitimacy,” he said.
The Service Victoria app records the user’s name, phone number, the location of the premises and the date and time they attended.
That visit itself is only retained by Service Victoria for 28 days and is only held for longer if the information is forwarded to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Service Victoria is unable to access any data from individual devices such as favourite locations or visit history.
Service Victoria says the digital visitor registration system has a range of safeguards to protect people’s data such as encryption, with all dates secured on servers in Australia.