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A man trying to scan a QR-code.

Here’s why you should be concerned about QR codes.

QR codes are fiddly, need the right light, and can be damaged easily. QR payments on pumps or chargers seem like a good thing until someone gets bored while fuelling or charging and thinks it is funny to peel them off.

We’ve all experienced this: You reach the restaurant, wait for the waiter to bring you the menu, and then, after several minutes, one arrives and asks you for your order. “Can I get a menu?” you ask, confused.

With a smile, the waiter points to a piece of wood in front of you with a faded, etched QR code. You sigh, and for the next minute, you try to aim your phone’s camera at the wood while cursing the dim light of the candle. Finally, a webpage opens, only to find it’s a poorly formatted PDF you can’t zoom in on.

But apart from the annoying little things about QR codes, there seems to be something extremely serious to be concerned about with them.

Fraud

QR codes are regularly used to sign in to EV chargers, and with the increased prevalence of these devices, it seems that fraudsters are seeing an opportunity. Fake QR codes are popping up all over the world, and this is a major problem.

By the time these fake QR codes are discovered, thousands of customers are already at risk. We’ve all heard about the issue of damaged chargers being undiscovered for days or weeks. Charge Point Operators don’t always keep a good handle on things when it comes to service. So, imagine if one of those QR codes finds its way onto the charger. The way it works is this:

1. You pull up at a charger
2. Scan the code
3. Get led to a website.

It all looks legitimate enough, and you select your charge and then add your credit card details. You might even see a charging timer. But really, you have just handed your credit card details to international criminals, and no, your car isn’t charging.

The problem has already been picked up by the media, and in the UK, it has been raised to the National Cyber Security Centre, but as long as QR codes remain out there, it will continue to be a problem.

SimpleSocket QR-fraud

Last year, over $150 million was lost in fraud in the US because of QR code scams

This year, the FBI in the USA warned consumers to be extremely careful about QR codes. Last year, over $150 million was lost in fraud in the US because of QR code scams. And it isn’t just about money. Scammers are using QR codes to access phones and steal personal information.

“Scammers are constantly looking for ways to access customer information, and payment fraud will always be problematic. Customers need to remain vigilant. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t.” Says Nick Horne, Suresite, who runs the payments for over three thousand retail outlets in the UK. “Ideally, retailers and operators should move from QR technology to more secure and controllable devices. The technology allows consumers to use verified applications without the need to scan a QR code, and modern payment terminals are more secure than ever.”

The problem with this ever-changing technology is that many people struggle to adapt to innovation. With government incentives and green pressure to switch to electric vehicles, people have to cope with the new technology and new ways to charge, leaving the less tech-savvy and more vulnerable to losing everything.

Our advice to consumers is simple

  1. Check the QR code on the terminal, ensuring it is the original and not stuck over another.
  2. Check websites for inconsistencies and web addresses for incorrect information.
  3. If you can use another form of payment, do so. If something feels suspicious, don’t use it.

For retailers, talk to us about how our application uses geolocation technology and license plate recognition to avoid using QR codes and how our eOPT can alleviate the issue of on-site ad-hoc payments.

Regarding any questions, contact us:
info@cloudics.com
+372 628 0000

Cloudics
Future of Energy Stations

Sources: DailyMail, ConnexionFrance, ABC News YouTube