Between the winter weather and COVID-19, most people are spending a lot of time at home. Streaming services, such as Netflix or Hulu, are more popular than ever. Watch out for scams cashing in on this opportunity. BBB Scam Tracker has gotten numerous reports of a text message con tricking would-be watchers with “free” Netflix for a year.
How the Scam Works
You receive a text message that says something like this: “Due to the pandemic, Netflix is offering everyone a free year of service to help you stay at home. Click the link to sign up.” Sounds great, right? If you click, you’ll be taken to a website to fill out your personal information and add a payment method.
However, the website is not run by Netflix! If you “sign up,” you’ll have given your personal information to a scammer. If you add payment information, you may be charged for services that you’ll never receive because scammer doesn’t have anything to do with Netflix.
One victim told BBB Scam Tracker that scammers charged their credit card repeatedly – even after they asked for a refund. “[The scammers] said no other money would be taken out of my account again,” the victim reported. “Then, about a week later, they took $39.99, and I called and asked for a refund. They told me 3 days at first. Then, after 3 days I called back, and they told me 7-10 business days. It’s been 10 business days. And now I have no refund.”
How to Avoid Text Message Scams
With many legitimate businesses using text messages to communicate with customers, scammers have come up with their own SMS cons. These are often called “smishing” (for SMS phishing) scams.
- Don’t believe every text you receive. As a general rule, companies can’t send you text messages unless you opt in to receive them. If you receive a text message from a company you haven’t given permission to contact you in this way, proceed with caution.
- Go straight to the source. If an offer seems strange, or too good to be true, contact the company directly by looking up their official contact information online. Call or email customer service to find out if the text message you received is legitimate.
- Take a close look at web addresses.If you follow a link in a text message that you believe is legitimate, examine the web address carefully before you take any action to make sure you are visiting a company’s official website and not a look-alike.
- Ignore instructions to text “STOP” or “NO.” Even if you realize the message is a scam, don’t text back for any reason. Scammers may want you to text back to verify that your phone number is an active one. Instead, simply block the number so you won’t receive messages from it in the future.
- Change your password. Even if you don’t fall for this scam, Netflix advises its customers to change their password if they’ve been targeted. Click here for more tips from Netflix.