BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — As consumers conduct more business on their smartphones, barcodes are giving way to QR codes, and the FBI says scammers are taking notice.

If you have not seen those weird-looking QR codes yet, you will be seeing them soon. QR is short for “quick response” and that is where the crooks are looking to get you. In a hurry to spend your money, and not taking the proper precautions.

QR codes are so convenient, they can take you to a website without even touching the keypad on your smartphone — just scan and click, and you are there. But that convenience comes with a price.

“What the bad guys are doing is they are actually using those codes to take you to their websites instead of to the website that you want to go to,” Dave Newell, founder of Loptr LLC told News 4.

Cybersecurity expert Dave Newell, of Loptr LLC, points out QR codes can be used for just about any type of transaction — entering contests, ordering online, even paying parking meters. For instance, the city has set up a payment app called BuffaloRoam.

A fake QR code can be set up online, stickers printed, and attached to a meter or a pay station. Scanning the fake code could lead you to a fake website.

“This fake website will tend to act just like a parking app and try to get your payment information and then steal your credit card information, instead of giving you parking,” Newell added.

Fortunately, the Buffalo Roam app is only available through the App Store or Google Play, a QR code will not get you there. Newell told us, to avoid a fake QR code ripoff, you have to check out the real website, thoroughly. The scammers could be trying to steal your ID, or setting up a malware attack.

And Newell says for any online transaction, use a credit card.

“If you are going in and paying for parking, or anywhere you are that you are using a QR code, even if it is legitimate, or you think it is, you should think about using your credit card instead of your debit card, just for a little bit of extra protection,” added Newell.

There have been reports of the FBI detecting fake QR codes being used in scams involving cryptocurrency.

Here in Buffalo, officials have not reported bogus QR codes being used to rip off the city’s parking app.

Al Vaughters is an award-winning investigative reporter who has been part of the News 4 team since 1994. See more of his work here. To submit a Call 4 Action, click here.