BBB: Large Spike In QR Code Parking Scams

Tyler Cross
Tyler Cross Senior Writer
Tyler Cross Tyler Cross Senior Writer

The North American Better Business Bureau (BBB) is sending out warnings about a spike in QR code parking scams.

Criminals set up fake QR codes in parking lots, posing as legitimate means to pay for parking. After consumers scan the code, they’re taken to a malicious website, which only takes a small amount of money at first. However, after several weeks, larger recurring charges are stolen. There’s also no proof of parking given at the time of the purchase.

Sometimes the QR codes are even placed on top of legitimate ones.

This leads to customers believing that they’ve paid for a legitimate service and makes it difficult to target the source of the crime. Parking lots have been targetting across the US, with the BBB outlining the tactic being used in Texas.

However, the scams aren’t just used at parking lots, as the BBB notice points out that one of the numerous reports they received was at the front of a hiking trail. Written on cardboard, it simply directed customers to “pay for parking.” In reality, it linked to an entertainment website that charged $39.95 to watch movies and listen to music.

“I tried to buy a parking voucher using the QR code on the city parking meters,” said a consumer who was scammed. “I scanned to pay for parking but received no proof of parking. I noticed a charge for $1.98 the same day. Later, I noticed a $49.99 charge on my credit card for three consecutive months. I tried calling and emailing the company with no luck. So, now I have to cancel the card.”

The BBB recommends you follow these tips to keep yourself safe from QR parking lot scams.

  • Use a quality antivirus that prevents you from opening malicious links. (Personally, I’d recommend Norton or another one of our top solutions.)
  • Use the parking meter to pay.
  • Be cautious around URL-shortened links. These may hide malicious URLs inside.
About the Author
Tyler Cross
Tyler Cross
Senior Writer

About the Author

Tyler is a writer at SafetyDetectives with a passion for researching all things tech and cybersecurity. Prior to joining the SafetyDetectives team, he worked with cybersecurity products hands-on for more than five years, including password managers, antiviruses, and VPNs and learned everything about their use cases and function. When he isn't working as a "SafetyDetective", he enjoys studying history, researching investment opportunities, writing novels, and playing Dungeons and Dragons with friends."