BBB: Outsmart the Smart TV hackers

The BBB is warning consumers about an increase in scams involving Smart TVs.

"We've seen this before, but now it's just moving into the movie platform business," said Jason Meza, senior regional director of San Antonio for the BBB serving the Heart of Texas. "People open up their favorite streaming service or smart TV, and for some reason, they can't connect."

What’s been called the "tech support scam" has expanded as technology expands.

Smart TV users may open a streaming service and not be able to log in. Instead, a pop-up appears claiming there is a problem with the device or subscription. Most likely, it will recommend the user visits a website or calls a customer service number to take care of it. 

That will often lead to a request for money or a request to gain remote access to the system.

"If not an immediate money grab, they're out to have control of your bank accounts," said Meza. "Many people use their devices to log on to bank accounts, credit card accounts, sensitive accounts, that they can now control or take over at any point once you allow them to come in the door through that remote access."

"When I was attempting to load Prime video, I was directed to contact tech support," said one person that reported their experience to the BBB Scam Tracker this month. "When I called, I was told I needed to update my Prime membership before I could continue installing my TV. I paid $199 via PayPal." 

According to the BBB, users should not immediately respond to automatic pop-ups. Websites or customer service numbers should be vetted first. 

Keep in mind, scammers will often create imitation websites that may be just a few letters off. Importantly, never let anyone gain remote access and research any "activation fees" requested of you, streaming services like Roku don't charge activation fees.