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New Netflix scam puts consumers at risk of identity theft: BBB

Better Business Bureau says it has received more than 100 reports of the scam through its scam tracker
The Better Business Bureau is warning of a new text message scam promising free Netflix for a year. IAM-photography/Getty Images

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) says crooks are promising free Netflix for a year in a new text messaging scam, putting consumers at risk of identity theft.

It’s happening at a time when people are spending much more time at home, between the winter weather and COVID-19 restrictions.

According to the consumer watchdog – which said it has received more than 100 reports about the con on its BBB scam tracker – the text message reads, “Due to the pandemic, Netflix is offering you a free year of service to help you stay at home. Click the link to sign up.”

The link takes consumers to a website where they are asked to fill out personal information and add a method of payment.

“However, the website is not run by Netflix,” the BBB said. “Individuals who signed up have unwittingly shared personal information with scammers and are at risk of identity theft.

However, the website is not run by Netflix, the BBB said, and individuals who signed up have “unwittingly shared personal information with scammers and are at risk of identity theft.”

Furthermore, the BBB said, if the consumers add any payment information, they may be charged for services they will never receive. In at least one case, a victim’s credit card was repeatedly charged even after they asked for a refund.

On its website, Netflix said it will never ask people to enter personal information in a text or email, including credit or debit card numbers, bank account details or Netflix passwords.

The streaming service will also never request payment through a third party vendor or website.

“If the text or email links to a URL that you don’t recognize, don’t tap or click it,” Netflix states on its website. “If you did already, do not enter any information on the website that opened.”

While many legitimate businesses use text messages to communicate with customers, scammers have come up with their own text message cons. The BBB has some tips to avoid text message scams:

  • Do not believe every text you receive. As a general rule, companies cannot send you text messages unless you opt in to receive them. If you receive a text message from a company you have not 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, do not 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 to avoid receiving messages in the future.

  • Change your password. Even if you do not fall for this scam, Netflix advises its customers to change their password if they have been targeted.

  • Click here for more tips from Netflix

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