On January 18, 2022, the FBI issued an announcement to raise awareness of cybercriminals using QR codes to direct people to fraudulent payment sites or embed malware. This is unwelcome news for restaurants that have turned to using QR code ordering to increase guest satisfaction and speed up service. Luckily, there are simple steps you can take to help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for your guests using QR codes.

1. Audit all your existing codes.

According to the FBI announcement, “Cybercriminals tamper with both digital and physical QR codes to replace legitimate codes with malicious codes.” As one example, scammers in Austin, Texas recently placed fraudulent QR code stickers on several dozen parking stations, trying to trick hapless customers into paying their parking fees on a malicious site.

Here’s how to prevent this sort of thing from happening at your restaurant.

  • Check all the places where you have QR codes to make sure they have not been tampered with—for example, overlaid with a sticker, scratched, or damaged
  • Test every QR code that's being displayed, and review that they are being routed to your online ordering platform
  • Safely store any QR codes from outdoor patios or parklets inside at night so you’re not giving criminals the chance to tamper with them.

2. Add your restaurant name or logo to your QR code placards/table-tents.

Some guests may rightfully be hesitant to scan a QR code if they’re not sure it’s legitimate. For this reason, make sure that any QR codes you print out for your guests are accompanied with your business name, logo, or are otherwise clearly labeled. This way, you will maintain guest confidence, and make it easy for them to know where to order and pay.

To learn more about printing QR codes with SpotOn Order, visit the SpotOn Help Center.

3. Train your staff and help educate guests.

By informing your staff and training them on these new safety measures, you'll help create a safe and seamless experience for everyone. If guests raise a concern at your restaurant, tell them about the measures you’ve taken to ensure your QR codes haven’t been tampered with and feel free to share with them the FBI's tips for consumers, located at the bottom of the announcement.


What are QR codes?

QR stands for Quick Response. QR codes are square barcodes that a mobile phone camera can scan to be directed to a website, a mobile application download, or payment portal.

Can QR codes be dangerous?

As the FBI report indicates, criminals can use QR codes to direct people to malicious sites. As a consumer, be sure to follow the Tips to Protect Yourself listed at the bottom of the FBI announcement, “Cybercriminals Tampering with QR Codes to Steal Victim Funds.” If you run a restaurant, be sure to follow the steps listed above to minimize risk to your guests.

What are the benefits of QR ordering for restaurants?

SpotOn Order dine-in ordering with QR codes allows restaurant guests to order and pay right from the table without having to touch a menu or place their order with a server. This speeds up service without requiring any additional labor costs, and also reduces the spread of germs.

How do I implement QR ordering and payment for my restaurant?

If you’re already a SpotOn Order client, simply contact our support team at support@spoton.com or speak to your local SpotOn representative to enable QR ordering at no extra cost. If you’re not yet a SpotOn client, contact our sales team to get your personalized demo.

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