Can’t access your smart TV app? Scammers may be at fault, says a watchdog group

According to a US consumer group, a Hulu customer reported that they tried to log into the streaming application on their smart TV and were scammed out of US$3,000.

The scam was reported to the Better Business Bureau by the user in August 2023.

The nonprofit warns smart TV users about potential scams.

In a McClatchy news interview, BBB spokesperson Melanie McGovern said that “a lot of victims” do suffer a financial loss.

She said that there are not many reports, but you can lose more money with this scam than other ones. We want to remind people that they should be careful when activating their smart TV or when something appears on the screen they are not familiar with.

How do you spot a scam on a smart TV

BBB stated in a news release from May 2023 that the trick usually begins by posing as a login problem when you open your favorite streaming app. According to the BBB, then a message will appear claiming that there is something wrong with your subscription or device.

Experts warn against falling for the pop-up. It may urge you to contact “customer support” for an immediate fix.

McGovern explained that scammers use a variety of tactics. “Impersonation is a very common one,” he said. In this case, scammers are impersonating streaming companies, big TV companies, and other similar entities to trick people into providing their personal information or money.

BBB warns that fraudsters will ask you to pay an activation charge or to remotely access your smart television. Both of these are warning signs. Your financial information could be at risk, and allowing strangers control your television poses a malware threat.

McGovern stated that scammers might insist on payment through peer-topeer apps such as Cash App.

She asked, “Who does not have a Hulu Account?” “Who doesn’t own a Netflix account?” she asked. The scammers are counting on your familiarity of a brand.

According to a report from the BBB Scam Tracker, in one instance, someone pretending they were with Hulu informed a user that their account had been compromised, and then scammed him out of his money.

The person said, “They made me send an error through Zelle but it was not an error. The money went through.” They claimed to be trying to return the money to me via Venmo, but kept taking more money from me until I hung-up.

BBB says that fraudsters may ask for gift cards in lieu of money.

One victim lost US$750, or RM3,521, after being convinced by fraudsters that their Amazon Prime Video account was hacked. They wrote: “(The scammer said) I would have to drive to a shop… and then follow his instructions when there.”

“Once I got to the store, he told me to buy two gift cards for US$350 each (RM1,643),” they continued. He said that the gift cards could be used to pay off my account in different ways.

How do I protect myself?

The bureau recommends that you do your research to avoid being a victim of smart TV scams before paying any activation fee.

McGovern stated that “in many cases you are reloading free or paid-for apps.”

The nonprofit also warned that you should be cautious of dubious websites and to double-check the contact information provided by a streaming service before calling the phone number.

Experts suggest that if you believe you have been scammed you should report it to both the BBB as well as to streaming services to inform them of the spoofing.

McGovern, McClatchy’s News correspondent, said that even if people didn’t lose any money they should report all the details they can remember. “Because if someone else searches for the same thing, a search will show that it is a scam.”

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