Avoid falling for streaming-related scams

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District Attorney Summer Stephan

With COVID-19 keeping many families at home, streaming services have become a popu­lar way to pass the time. Services such Netflix, Hulu, and Disney-plus allow folks to quarantine at home without breaking the bank. Unfortu­nately, scammers have taken note of the rise in streaming service users and have sought to ex­ploit the growing market.

Two main scams have surfaced recently: an email scam and a fake website scam. The first scam involves fraudsters using fake emails, com­monly known as phishing emails, to obtain sen­sitive information from victims. These emails typically resemble emails from streaming ser­vices and advertise discounts and specials. Many offer a free trial period and other similar specials in exchange for a credit card number or personal information.

The second scam involves fake websites scam­mers create that closely resemble real streaming websites. Through these fake websites, swin­dlers obtain personal information, such as a cred­it card number, from their unsuspecting victims. Luckily, there are many signs that you can look out for in order to spot them, here are a few:

  • Bad grammar or spelling mistakes.
  • The email does not address you by name or contains no directly identifying information.
  • The email is sent from a suspicious email address.
  • The email contains phone numbers or web links that are not affiliated with the streaming service.
  • Clicking on any link takes you directly to a page asking for personal information such as your credit card number.
  • The email is from a streaming service to which you are not a subscriber.
  • The email asks you to download a file or at­tempts to take you to a webpage to download a file.
  • The email advertises huge discounts, even a full year of free service.

Other scammers will try to swindle you through fake websites. Here is how to spot fake websites:

  • An incorrect domain name: for example, the domain name is hulu123.net instead hulu.com.
  • Clicking on any link takes you to a different website asking you for banking or credit card information.
  • A lot of pop-up ads. Legitimate streaming services have few, if any, ads.

Although knowing how to identify a stream­ing service scam is useful, it’s best to avoid them altogether. Remember to:

  • Stay vigilant, if something looks too good to be true, it probably is.
  • Never contact any suspicious number or web­site.
  • Use a strong password for all your online ac­counts.
  • Never use a third-party to contact your streaming service. Always go to the official web­site or use the official number.
  • Never provide sensitive information through email or text-message
  • Always have your anti-virus software up to date.
  • Avoid falling for “pressure tactics.” If an email or phone call is urging you to act quickly, tread carefully as it may be a scam.
  • Verify you are on the correct website by exam­ining the domain.
  • If you in doubt, contact the company through their official lines of communication with infor­mation listed on their website.

If you think you have been scammed, file a re­port with the Federal Trade Commission or call their hotline at 888-283-3757. Be sure to change the passwords on any accounts that may have been compromised and contact your financial institution to verify all recent transactions.

As your District Attorney, I’m committed to increasing communication and accessibility between the DA’s Office and the public. I hope these consumer and public safety tips have been helpful.

Avoid falling for streaming-related scams

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