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'Quishing' scam steals your info with QR codes on parking meters

ParkMobile is alerting users that fraud stickers on meters are placed by scammers.

ARLINGTON, Va. — There’s a new scam that D.C. area parking officials and companies are concerned about. It involves QR codes slapped onto parking meters, with the goal of stealing personal information -- known as "quishing."

QR codes have become commonplace during the pandemic, as a way to enable contactless service at places like restaurants or retail. The code allows users to scan it with their phone and it pulls up usually a website or an app. Then you can do whatever transaction you need to do. 

"But what consumers need to be aware of is that scammers will put their own QR code, sometimes on signage, or in certain places where a consumer is expecting a QR code to take them to a certain business," Parkmobile CEO Jeff Perkins said. "But the scammer is redirecting them to their business where they're trying to get their bank account or credit card information."

Perkins warns that scanning the fraud codes will usually pull up a fake website. 

"Sometimes these scammers will just set up a dummy website aimed to get your information, but you can kind of see when you look at it, it doesn't really look legitimate," he said. "So really look at that website, make sure it's where you think you should be. And if it's not, don't use it and just find another way to pay," added Perkins.

There is some good news for the DMV. Perkins said quishing has not happened yet in D.C. So far it's been found mostly in Texas, with cases in Austin, San Antonio and Houston, Perkins said. 

"I’m usually too lazy to scan a QR code, but especially with the parking meters, I would just do it because it’s the fastest," Arlington resident Felicity Borries said. "That’s a sneaky one." 

D.C.’s Department of Transportation said they are aware of the scam.

“We encourage any customer who sees a QR code sticker on our meters to report it to 311 or the DDOT call center so that we can direct ParkMobile to remove it immediately," they wrote in a statement to WUSA9. 

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