Smart TVs – such as Roku and Amazon Fire TV sticks with streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube TV – it seems like everyone has them these days. With the ability to watch just about any show your heart desires with the click of a button, the convenience is unbeatable.
But like we’ve seen with other groundbreaking technology that, on the surface, appears to make our lives better, there can be a dark side. And in this case, it’s the possibility to be scammed right from your own couch.
This blog sheds light on what smart TV scams are, how they work, and how you can help protect yourself from falling victim to them.
What are Smart TV Scams?
Scammers use smart TV scams as an attempt to trick users into sharing their personal and financial information.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), these scams usually start with pop-up messages appearing on a user’s smart TV, claiming there’s an issue with the device or streaming subscription. They instruct the user to call a phone number or visit a website to resolve the alleged problem.
If the user falls for it, the scammer may then try to convince them to pay a fee or give them remote access to their smart TV so they can steal personal information.
How Do Smart TV Scams Typically Work?
A scammer initiates the scam by displaying a pop-up message on a user’s smart TV. The message often claims there is an issue with the device or streaming subscription and provides a phone number for assistance.
When the user calls the provided number, a scammer, posing as a customer service representative, answers the call.
Activation Fee or Remote Access
The scammer presents the user with three main options to resolve the issue:
- Activation fee. They insist on an activation fee to resolve the supposed issue. Users who comply often end up revealing their credit or debit card information, allowing the scammer to make unauthorized transactions.
- Remote access. The scammer may request remote access to the user’s smart TV, claiming it’s necessary for troubleshooting. Granting access can lead to the installation of malware on the TV, which can compromise sensitive personal information.
- Gift card payments. In some instances, the scammer may propose an alternative method to “fix” the issue. They ask the user to make payments using gift cards, convincing them that this can add security features or resolve the problem.
How to Help Prevent Falling for Smart TV Scams
Don’t Get Fooled by Fake Fees
If you’re hit by unexpected fees, be sure to verify the legitimacy of charges. Always double-check with the official service provider before parting with your money.
Steer Clear of Phishing Websites
You might think phishing won’t happen when you’re using your TV, but that’s not the case. Be careful about clicking suspicious links and always double-check that you are accessing official websites and apps. Scammers can set up lookalike websites to trick you into entering your login details or downloading malware.
Dial the Right Number
If you get a pop-up on your TV asking you to call a phone number, verify it’s a legitimate customer service phone number first by cross-referencing it with official sources.
Keep Your Device’s Remote Access Secure
Granting remote access to your smart TV can leave it wide open to unauthorized tinkering. Make sure you only grant access to people or tech support you trust.
Think Twice About Sharing Personal Info
Before sharing personal information like your full name, address, login information, or payment details, pause for a moment and verify that you are sharing this information with the legitimate organization.
Keep Your Software Updated
Make it a habit to keep your smart TV software and other connected devices up to date. Vulnerabilities in a device on your network can potentially be exploited to access your smart TV.
Already Fall for a Smart TV Scam?
If you suspect you’ve fallen victim to a scam from your smart TV, you should immediately change your passwords, contact your bank or credit card company to report unauthorized charges if you have them, and report the scam to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and authorities.
Whether you have fallen to this scam or not, use IdentityIQ identity theft protection services to help monitor your personal information. IdentityIQ monitors all corners of the internet, including the dark web, and alerts you when your personal information is detected, arming you with knowledge so you can take action when you need to most.
In today’s digital age, staying ahead of scammers is crucial. Smart TV scams are on the rise, but with awareness and the right precautions, you can help protect yourself. Remember to double-check fees before paying them, avoid phishing attempts, stick to trusted contact information, secure your device, be careful about sharing personal information, and keep your software updated.
Let IdentityIQ identity theft protection services watch after your personal information with 24/7 monitoring and real-time alerts when suspicious activity is detected.
How can I verify the authenticity of a customer service phone number?
To verify a customer service phone number, cross-reference it with the official website. Avoid using numbers provided in suspicious emails or pop-ups.
Are there specific signs I’m accessing a phishing website on my smart TV?
Phishing websites often have URLs that appear slightly altered from legitimate sites. Look for misspellings, extra characters, or unusual domains. Always access streaming services and content through trusted apps or channels on your smart TV.
What are some signs that my smart TV may have been compromised by a scam?
Unusual behavior, such as freezing or crashing, unexpected pop-up ads, or unauthorized changes to settings can indicate a compromise.
Can scammers gain access to my personal data through my smart TV?
Yes, if your smart TV is compromised scammers can potentially access personal data like login credentials, credit card information, and even your browsing history.