AUSTIN, Texas - QR codes directing users to a fraudulent website were found on 29 Austin Parking pay stations over the weekend, according to the Austin Transportation Department.
The website requested credit card payment for "parking sessions." However, the site is not part of the City of Austin paid parking system and city officials believe it "may have been created with malicious intent."
Austin Parking pay stations only accept payment through the Park ATX application, coins, credit, and debit cards. "We've talked to industry professionals who have warned us about using QR codes, and that's why we do not utilize QR codes on our infrastructure at all," explained Parking Enterprise Manager Jason Redfern.
Redfern told FOX 7 Austin City of Austin officials were notified of a QR code scam by the City of San Antonio in late December - when more than 100 pay stations were stickered with fraudulent codes.
"We don't believe at this point that [the scam] scoops everything out of your bank account. What it does, it appears that it accepts payment for the parking but again that payment goes to the wrong location it should be going to the City of San Antonio." Lt. Marcus Booth of the San Antonio Police Department told KSAT on December 20.
Aware of the scam, city officials were able to easily identify it — so far, no Austin-based victims have come forward. Still, he notes that could change with increased media coverage. "As these stories get out, people will think back and think ‘Did I scan a QR code for parking on the street?’ and then people may step forward," Redfern said.
Anyone who sees someone tampering with a pay station and is not a badged City of Austin employee is asked to call 9-1-1.
Officials with the Austin Transportation Department say "any person who believes they were a victim of a credit card breach due to recent parking meter payments should file a police report and notify their card issuer immediately. You can file a report by calling 3-1-1 or going to iReportAustin.com."
Anyone who received a parking citation after paying with a QR code is also encouraged to contest the citation.
Beware of fraudulent QR code stickers on Austin public parking meters