BBB Scam Alert: Scammers may be targeting your smart TV

Published 7:29 pm Wednesday, May 22, 2024

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From the Better Business Bureau:

Scammers can target victims through any device connected to the internet, and your TV is no exception. BBB Scam Tracker has seen an influx of reports about scammers catching people off guard with pop-ups on their smart TVs. Their objective is to steal your personal information and money.

How the scam works

You open a familiar streaming service on your smart TV.

However, you can’t log in. Instead, a pop-up appears, telling you there is a problem with your device or your streaming subscription. You need to call a phone number or visit a website to fix it.

Don’t fall for it! If you call the number, scammers pretend to be customer service representatives. They will insist you pay an activation fee or allow them remote access to your smart TV. These con artists will get your credit or debit card number if you pay the fee. If you give them access to your device or click on a link they provide, the scammers may install malware on your TV and use it to gain access to sensitive personal information.

Sometimes scammers ask you to “fix” the issue by paying them in gift cards. One consumer reported that after calling a number that appeared in a pop-up on their smart TV, a scammer instructed them to purchase three $100 Xbox gift cards to add “anti-hacking protection” to their account. After buying the gift cards and contacting the number again, it became clear they were dealing with scammers.

How to avoid smart TV scams

● Double-check any fees you have to pay. If scammers ask you to pay an activation fee, antivirus protection fee, or any other kind of fee, do some research beforehand. For example, scammers claim you need to pay an activation fee to start using your Roku. However, a quick online search reveals that Roku never charges activation or registration fees.

● Don’t fall for fake websites. Scammers love to create imitation websites using URLs that are just a letter or two off. Fake websites are a threat, even on smart TVs, so double-check the URL.

Another way to protect yourself is to avoid clicking on links in pop-ups and, instead, type web URLs directly into your browser.

● Check before you call. If a “customer service” phone number appears in a pop-up, double-check it before you call. Contact a streaming service or TV manufacturer’s website to find their customer support number.

● Never let anyone control your device remotely. Scammers usually ask for remote computer access, but they could also ask for access to your smart TV. Don’t ever give control of your device to a stranger.