EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — If you have a smart TV, listen up.
The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning of a scam involving popular streaming devices, such as Roku and Amazon Fire TV sticks, and services like Netflix and YouTube TV.
The BBB said it has received an influx of reports regarding scammers targeting victims through pop-ups on their smart TVs.
“Scammers can actually target victims through their devices via the internet,” BBB’s Paula Fleming explained. “Obviously, smart TVs are no exception.”
Here’s how the scam works:
The scammer typically prevents the user from logging into their streaming service through a pop-up, which states there is a problem with either the streaming device or subscription.
In order to rectify the supposed issue, the pop-up provides the user with a phone number to call or a website to visit.
Users who call the number are quickly connected with a scammer posing as a customer service representative. The representative explains that, in order to regain access to the streaming service or device, the user must pay an activation fee or grant the scammer remote control of their smart TV.
The scammers can also gain access to smart TVs when users click on the links provided in the pop-ups. Once in control, scammers can install malware on the device and collect sensitive personal information.
The BBB said in one instance, scammers convinced a user to pay them in gift cards to add “anti-hacking protection” to their account.
“You don’t want to fall for this,” Fleming said. “It’s very easy to want to get your device working, and that instant satisfaction of thinking it is going to [be resolved] leaves you a perfect target for these scam artists.”
Here’s how to avoid smart TV scams:
- Double-check any fees: Before you pay any fee, including activation and antivirus protection fee, the BBB recommends doing some research first.
- Watch for fake websites: Scammers are known for creating realistic-looking websites but, on a closer look, you’ll likely notice the URL is a letter or two off. Before clicking any link, including any that appears on your smart TV, double-check the URL. It’s best to avoid clicking any link in a pop-up and instead type the URL into a phone or computer.
- Check before you call: The BBB recommends comparing any “customer service” phone number with the streaming service’s or smart TV’s website before you make the call.
- Don’t give anyone remote control of your device: Scammers often ask for remote computer access – they can do the same to access your smart TV. If you don’t know to who you’re giving access, the BBB encourages not giving access.
Anyone who believes they’ve fallen victim to a suspected scam is urged to report it using the BBB Scam Tracker.
Many streaming companies also offer instructions on how to avoid scammers and what to do if you do fall victim to a scam. For example, Netflix asks that you forward any scam emails to them after you change your account password and contact your financial institution if you shared payment info.