DRIVERS have been warned to beware of a scam attempting to steal their identities through parking meters.
According to local reports, a parking garage in Charlotte, North Carolina was plagued with fake QR codes placed on parking meters to scam drivers out of their money.
Tom Bartholomy, president of the Better Business Bureau (BBB), told WCNC-TV that he himself was almost scammed with a fake QR code, proving how elaborate the scam really is.
If the sticker hadn’t peeled off the garage’s real QR code, Bartholomy would have fallen for it – like many before him.
“I just peeled back the back a little bit and there was another QR code behind it,” Bartholomy said.
“That’s when I found out about this type of fraud. They create their own QR codes, stick them over existing QR codes on parking meters or larger signs indicating parking spaces, and direct people to their own website to record their payment information.”
QR codes make paying for parking convenient as the entire transaction takes place via a mobile phone.
However, fake QR codes then give fraudsters access to a person’s bank details and email address.
“We have to be aware of this because two bad things can happen,” he said.
“You will be making payments to someone who has nothing to do with your parking. And at the same time he steals your identity.”
This isn’t the first time the BBB has caught scammers tricking drivers this year.
In January, the organization reported that fraudsters were making and attaching fake parking tickets to people’s cars to exploit people’s fear of being towed.
As we become more reliant on our smartphones to do everything, scammers are getting smarter.
“Through recent studies, we have found that scammers primarily target 25- to 34-year-olds, who are very tech-savvy but not necessarily fraud-savvy,” Bartholomy said.
“They use their smartphone for everything.”
To avoid being scammed, Bartholomy advises people to pay more attention to the QR codes posted above other parking signs and not to take risks.
“Whether it’s a parking meter or a sign, if it’s a piece of tape that’s on top of something else, don’t do it,” Bartholomy said.
If you think you’ve been scammed with a fake QR code, he also strongly recommends you contact your credit reporting agency and freeze your account to prevent scammers from using your card(s).
After your accounts are suspended, it is also advisable to report the QR code to the BBB.