Beware QR Codes! · 19 August 2023

Beware QR codes! Rather beware QR code readers.

I am not much of a phone guy. At least not much of a smart phone guy. Which means that I do not have my whole life on my phone. Oh sure. I search the internet on my phone. I email and text people. I even use the phone to call people. But I do not have my whole life on my phone. At least I do not think so.

Since I am not that much of a phone guy, I had a problem with a QR code recently. Rather, I had a problem with my QR code reader. In fact, I just figured out the problem as I was preparing to write this blog post. The problem is that I clicked an ad that was on my QR code reader.

Like I said, I am not that much of a smart phone guy. Not very savvy as it were. I was at a track and field meet signing up for my event. There was a QR code for me to scan to do so electronically. I had done it one time before, but apparently I clicked the wrong thing this time. If I used my QR code reader all the time, I would have noticed that there is a huge space below the reader that is an ad. This particular ad (fanjestic[dot]com) takes what is ostensibly the QR code you just read and uses it as part of the ad. But when you click on what you think is the picture of the QR code (and it may actually be the picture), you go to their sign up site. Believe me, it is a place you do not want to go.

Now, you can go to the site without the sign up, but it is just an empty site. It has two buttons, one for Canada and one for the U.S. And when you click on either, you get what is essentially a blank screen. How do I know all this? I am glad you asked.

I was at the track and field meet where I used the QR code reader to read the QR code. It was supposed to take me to a Google document that I could use to digitally sign up for my event. I clicked on the picture of what I thought was the QR code picture (as I already described). But whether it was the actual QR code picture or not, it took me to the ad’s site. Which had me sign up for some service that I did not want. But I did not look at it closely. I just signed up because I thought I was at the right place. And after I had given my information, I had not signed up for my event, but instead had signed up for a headache and possible loss of money.

Well, I eventually went to the correct site and signed up for the javelin. Which by the way, I did get a Personal Record (PR). And it will be my forever record in the 700g javelin since next year I will be in the 600g javelin category.

At any rate.

I did not know that I was the victim of a scam website until I got home. Apparently, the site had already tried to charge a dollar to our credit card. Our bank was all over it and had sent us a text. And after a little work, we figured out that we would cancel our credit card and issue a new one. (And by we, I mean my wonderful, diligent wife and the bank.)

I suppose that I should say that all’s well that ends well. But I need to add another comment.

Beware the QR code! Rather, beware the QR code reader. Rather, beware the ads in the QR code reader. Or just be smarter than your phone. Or at least smarter than me. (Which should not be that difficult.)

[One last note. The QR codes on this page point to my website and my Amazon author page. I suppose you could consider the Amazon link an ad.]

© 2023 Michael T. Miyoshi

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