Consumer Alert: Here’s how thieves can use your smart TV and streaming service to scam you

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. This consumer alert is a warning for anyone who uses streaming services.

Thieves have found a devilish way to target you through your television. With this new scam, hackers use your streaming service and smart TV as vehicles to target your wallet.

If you stream video from services like Netflix, Disney or Amazon Prime, you’re not alone. Eighty-five percent of Americans stream at least one service, according to Cloudwards, a technology information company. That’s why thieves are now targeting us through our smart TVs. There are plenty of would-be victims.

According to the Better Business Bureau, here’s how the scam works. You turn on your television and try to open your streaming service. But instead, you get a pop-up saying something is wrong. The message might say something like this, “Your subscription has expired. Call 800-555-5555 to renew your service.” Or the pop-up will tell you to click a link.

“If you click that link, they may be able to gain access to your device or your personal information,” said Katarina Schmieder, Communications Director for the BBB of Upstate New York. “And if you call the customer service line, it could be a scammer posing as a representative trying to gain access to your information or your smart TV. So it’s really important not to click those links and not to make those phone calls.”

With the help of the Better Business Bureau, Here’s Deanna’s Do List for safe streaming:

  • Scammers sometimes ask for an activation fee or anti-virus fee. Google customer service first.
  • Customer service number pops up? Google it first.

Stream scammers may create a fake website that looks like your streaming service. 

  • Don’t fall for it. Check the URL. it will usually have letters or numbers added or words will be misspelled.
  • Never click on a link in a pop-up.
  • Never let anyone remotely control your TV.

Lastly, if any so-called business asks for payment in a wire transfer or gift card, it’s a scam.