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November 1, 2023
Whether getting reviews or directing attention to a web page, QR codes are one of the best ways to connect customers in a physical space to something online.
But are they safe?
Like with anything related to self storage software or communications, there are a few ways that criminals and pranksters can take advantage of QR codes to harm your customers. But they can still be used safely!
The dangers of using QR codes are actually fairly small and can be mitigated.
This post will dive into the security risks QR codes pose and offer solutions for how to counter them, allowing you to deliver convenient service via QR codes in a safer manner.
First, let’s take a quick look at some of the ways QR codes can be used to improve your customer experience (and YOUR experience) at a self storage facility.
Proper use of a QR code can lead to a better experience overall for everyone involved.
Let’s get into the meat of the discussion now: security risks posed by QR codes.
Sometimes, it seems like nothing can exist without someone taking advantage of it. When it comes to QR codes, there is one way people do this.
By creating fake QR codes and tricking people into scanning them.
Scanning these QR codes usually leads to one of two types of scams:
Each of these is bad for its own reasons. Phishing, which most of us are probably familiar with by now, can lead to problems such as stolen identities, credit card fraud, and more. Malware often leads to similar issues as phishing, but it can also be spread to others, lead to ransomware attacks, and worse.
Needless to say, we don’t want our customers exposed to either outcome.
There are two ways that criminals trick your customers into these scams:
So, how can you counter these tactics?
While part of the responsibility is on your customers to recognize threats, there are a few ways you can protect them and instill a sense of security when using your QR codes.
The Threat: If you use QR codes, a criminal can print out their own QR code and cover yours on official signage, thereby tricking your customers into scanning it.
This threat is tricky because it is hard for your team to recognize if the QR code is different.
If the perpetrator is careful, it will be almost impossible to tell that there is a second QR code covering the real one.
And, let’s be honest, no one on your team is going to be able to memorize the exact pattern the QR code is supposed to use.
This one is thankfully pretty easy to navigate if you do it right from the beginning. There are actually three solutions:
Branded QR codes and extra large QR codes are harder for criminals to replicate, and clear cases make it so they can't get to the original QR code at all. Additionally, a branded QR code makes it easier for your team to recognize if it has been covered. If they walk by signage and see a basic, non-branded QR code, they know there’s a problem!
Just make sure to still follow QR code best practices!
The Threat: A QR code is placed somewhere at your facility—a wall, inside a unit, or elsewhere—with or without signage to trick customers into scanning.
This one is easier for your team to catch, but it’s just as dangerous.
The real danger here is that it can degrade trust in QR codes at your facility. If you actually employ QR codes at your storage facility and encourage customers to use them, then having fake ones posted randomly around the facility can confuse customers and lead them to be wary of even the real ones.
Importantly, the threat of fake QR codes is still a danger even if your facility doesn’t use QR codes.
Your storage facility’s manager—or yourself, if you manage the facility as well—should already be making rounds to check on the facility. Train them to add this to the list of things to look for.
Customer education is also important. If you’ve noticed that fake QR codes have been posted, consider messaging customers to remind them not to scan QR codes unless they include your branding or are pointed out in person by management.
If properly used and kept track of, yes!
While QR codes pose some risks, the danger is fairly small. And if you make sure to account for the risks when establishing your QR codes at your facility, the chances become infinitesimal.
In reality, these dangers are no different than those associated with phone numbers, where fake numbers can be posted to lead customers to phishing scams.
Proper planning from the onset of your QR code use and training for your facility’s managers can mitigate these risks so that your facility can make proper use of QR codes without concern!
Want to stay on top of your storage game in the face of tough competition? Check out these resources!