T-Mobile gets patent on tech to prevent QR code fraud

QR and other 2D barcodes have become a common way for companies to communicate with their customers via their smartphones, but are also a target for hackers and fraudsters.

Mobile communications company T-Mobile has been awarded a US patent on a technique that it says could help protect QR and other barcodes from copying, reuse, decoding and reconfiguring, for example to point a user to a fraudulent website that mimics a genuine company site.

“Companies offering services using digital barcodes suffer substantial economic and productivity losses,” says the patent, which describes various ways to protect barcodes from this type of activity that can work in tandem with the regular cameras on smartphone devices.

Using the approach, when a consumer attempts to scan a barcode using their device, the code will only be displayed and read if it incorporates a hidden feature. When the systems and methods do not detect a match, they prevent the display of the barcode, thus deterring digital barcode fraud, says the patent.

An abstract of the patent appears below:

Laser light detection and barcode display at mobile phone

Abstract: Systems and methods for utilizing one or more cameras at a mobile device to assist in the implementing anti-counterfeit measures for digital barcodes are disclosed. For example, the systems and methods use a mobile device's front camera to capture photographs (or images) at a certain frequency (e.g., capture a photograph every 0.20 seconds). The systems and methods then scan the captured photograph and retrieve relevant image data (for example, scan image vertically and utilize image data of every fourth pixel). The systems and methods compare certain properties of the retrieved image data with properties of one or more comparison light sources. When the systems and methods detect a match (for example, a match within certain threshold parameters), they identify a barcode among a set of barcodes and display the identified barcode at a display screen of the mobile device.

US Patent No. 10,832,109

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

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