Texas parking payment problems now include scammy QR codes

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The next time you go to a place in Texas (or any other state to be in a safe place) you’ll want to avoid plastering that QR code on the parking meter. Also known as quick response codes, they are a common means for scammers to get people to pay them or get rich quickly by implanting malware. Now, they are sticking it on parking meters to earn some dough by duping unsuspecting drivers.

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according to a Fox News According to the report, fake QR codes have been found at 29 parking pay stations in Austin. For those unaware, parking stations in Austin only accept payment via the official ParkATX app, coins and banking cards – both credit and debit. The Austin Police Department has already issued a warning about the ongoing scam on the social media platform, but the scam appears to have spread to more Texas cities.

Scam Alert
APD financial crime detectives are investigating after discovering fraudulent QR code stickers on public parking meters in downtown Austin. People attempting to pay for parking using those QR codes could be directed to a fraudulent website and paid. pic.twitter.com/Gb8gytCYn7

— Austin Police Department (@Austin_Police) 3 January 2022

The San Antonio Police Department has issued a similar Warning And is currently investigating the Parking Meter QR scam. Massachusetts State Police has sent a warning message Also, asked residents and visitors to avoid QR codes coming up at parking stations. Michigan’s St. Joseph’s Department of Public Safety They say It has also received reports of fake parking tickets.


in an officer Press release, the city of Houston has warned citizens that street-parking pay stations do not accept QR code payments, meaning you should stay away from them if you come across one. The ParkHouston team has launched an inspection campaign to check more than 900 pay stations for such malicious QR codes, although no victims have been reported so far. If You’re in Houston, You Can Pay Your Parking Bill Through Coins ParkHouston App, or banking card. According to ABC NewsThe officials had spotted five places where scammy QR codes were pasted. Residents have been asked to report such scams [email protected] email address.

What if you’ve already been cheated on?

QR code scams can harm users in many ways. The most obvious thing is when a scammer deposits the cost of a parking ticket into his account. In this case, only a few dollars have come out of your wallet. However, scanning a suspicious QR code can redirect users to a web page, where they can be tricked into submitting sensitive financial details such as credit card numbers and bank account information.

A malicious QR code pasted at a parking station.
A malicious QR code was spotted at a parking station in Houston (Image credit: Click2Houston,
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When this happens, the scammer can either sell this data to bad actors or even wipe your account by initiating transactions after extracting the PIN. The potential for damage is huge. Law enforcement officials have advised people to be vigilant, and if they suspect fraud has occurred, the victim should file a report immediately.

You can do this by reporting to the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3) of the Federal Bureau of Investigation www.IC3.gov on your phone or computer. It is also advised that victims immediately report the incident to their local police department by phone call or in person (if the existing COVID-19 protocol allows it).

If you have been the victim of a parking meter QR scam in Austin, call the 3-1-1 helpline or visit www.ireportaustin.com To file a credit card violation report. Also, you should try to reach out to your banking institution and ask them to block any transactions in your name or linked to your bank wallet. Once this is done, users should follow up by changing the password for their online banking account and credit card PIN.

How to avoid QR code scams?

Scanning a QR code may seem harmless, but it is nothing short of a huge leap of faith. We don’t know what’s hidden behind those dots and lines, nor what kind of websites would prompt users to scan them once. But ever since the pandemic struck, QR codes have skyrocketed in popularity. For example, take a restaurant Where you no longer have to touch a physical menu. Just scan a QR code and the menu will open on your phone. The same goes for paying after a meal or any other in-store purchase.

A malicious payment gateway webpage for QR code scams.
The kind of scam payment pages open these fraudulent QR codes. (image credits: Click2Houston,

In the resurgence of QR codes, scammers also found an opportunity. In October last year, the Better Business Bureau in Minnesota and North Dakota warned about QR code scams. A month later, the FBI also issued a Warning Regarding shadowy QR codes on cryptocurrency ATMs that can be used to deposit funds into the wallet of a malicious party. Here are some precautions you can take to avoid falling victim to QR code scams in general – not just at the parking station:

  1. Don’t scan QR codes given to you by strangers, plastered on your vehicle, or at any random location like an airport or bus stop. Always check if an alternate mode of payment such as cash or banking card can be accepted.
  2. If scanning the QR code leads to the website, check the URL to see if there is anything strange in the name, such as spelling errors or random numbers. If the URL spells out a name, do a quick Google search to check if the original URL matches the URL you opened after scanning the QR code. Other telltale signs are strange ads and pop-ups on a web page. Payment gateways are usually secure and don’t show ads if at all. Another tip is to look for HTTPS in the URL, as the ‘s’ is secure. Authenticated government agencies or verified institutions usually have an HTTPS URL instead of following the old HTTP protocol.
  3. If someone sends you a QR code via social media or an instant messaging app, ask if they scanned it in person and whether it works as intended.
  4. If a message or email with a QR code has been sent by an organization like your bank or insurance service provider, always call them to confirm before scanning it.
  5. If a QR code has any signs of tampering like a slapdash, avoid scanning it at all costs.
  6. If you receive a QR code from someone who claims that you will get paid after scanning it, it is probably a fraud. avoid it.
  7. If a QR code is linked to cryptocurrency or bitcoin-related schemes, stay away from them as much as you can.
  8. Install mobile security software or an app that can detect when you open a malicious QR code link and raise an alarm in case of any potential risk. Kaspersky, Avira, BitDefender, Average, And location Offer solutions that can keep you safe from scams and malware.

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