DENVER (KDVR) — The FBI has been warning the public about QR code scams since January. 

Experts say scammers are trying to cash in with fake QR codes, as the codes become more popular.

Phony QR codes are often stickers placed over codes at parking meters and at restaurants, according to Dr. J. Michael Skiba, an expert in criminal justice at Colorado State University’s global campus.

“If it’s a parking area, if it’s downtown Denver it’s going to be branded accordingly on their website, if it’s a restaurant there will be copy exactly from that restaurant’s website,” Skiba said. “To a consumer that has their guard down a little bit, it’s going to look like exactly what they should be.”

In many cases, the faux codes will direct a user to a fake website asking for personal information, Skiba explains.

“They’re taking that information and they’re going out on their own, they’re trying to hack into that person’s Amazon account, Facebook, credit cards,” Skiba said. “And usually by the time the person is out of the cafe or back to their car, the scammer has had their fun.”

Some tips to spot a fake QR code, according to experts:

  • Make sure the code is not a sticker
  • Crooked placement
  • Misprints, misspellings

Skiba stresses it’s important to report QR code scams, so authorities can protect other consumers.