If you’ve been enjoying streaming services more over the past year, you’re not alone. More than 12 million customers signed up for at least one new streaming service during lockdown, and viewing statistics have risen by 71% from 2019.
However, with that increase in viewership, there has also been an increase in the number of people trying to capitalize on that success through scams. According to the Better Business Bureau, there has been a significant increase in phishing scams in which fake companies offer a year’s worth of Netflix for “free.”
Unfortunately, this seems like a savvier scam than most. The Netflix scam links to a fake Netflix login page. Some even include CAPTCHA verification to make them look more convincing. Though these types of scams have always been around, they’re becoming more popular than ever during the pandemic.
One popular version of the scam occurs over text message. You might receive a message that says something like:
“Due to the pandemic, Netflix is giving everyone a free year of service to help people stay at home. Click the link to sign up.”
However, clicking on that link will take you to the fake Netflix page. Once there, the site will prompt you to enter your personal information, including your credit card information. Most likely, the site will then start charging your credit card without your permission.
In addition to the site’s design mimicking Netflix, the other thing that makes them hard to distinguish is that the URL will also look real. As a reminder, many scam websites mimic real websites by using URLs that look similar to the real URL. For example, something like nettflix.com looks similar to the real URL, but is one letter off thanks to an extra T.
One rule of thumb that can help you avoid the hassle and fraudulent charges is to just be careful with text messages from unfamiliar numbers. Companies can’t text message you unless you have already opted in. If you haven’t opted in to receive messages, proceed with caution. If you aren’t sure whether the text is real, don’t follow any links in it. Instead, you can simply block the number so you don’t receive any messages from it in the future.
Finally, if you have received scam messages—from a fake “Netflix” or otherwise—you can report it to the Better Business Bureau on their Scam Tracker site.