Three scam alerts the Better Business Bureau says you need to know about

Watch out for smart TV activation, smartphones and phony products

ROANOKE, Va. – The Better Business Bureau is sounding the alarm on three scams you need to know about.

1. Fake Streaming Service Activation Prompts

If you have a smart TV, you need to be aware when you’re setting it up. As you sync up your accounts with smart TV apps, it sometimes requires visiting an activation page online.

The Better Business Bureau says if you put the address directly into your computer or phone’s web browser, you’ll be directed to the official YouTube link to activate your account. But some people just search for the website, and that’s how they get scammed.

“A lot of crooks have figured out that they can pay to be at the top and they can put what appears to be your activation page and it’s not. It actually is taking you to where you’re going to try to sign in and then it’s going to tell you you have to pay a fee in order to do that,” said Julie Wheeler, Better Business Bureau Serving Western VA.

Here’s how to stay safe:

  • Always double-check that you are visiting an official website.
  • Be wary of ads and sponsored links.
  • Be careful with your login information. Legitimate customer service reps generally do not ask for passwords over the phone or through an email.

2. Phony products on social media

The BBB also is warning about misleading ads on Instagram, Facebook and TikTok promoting customized gifts. The Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker has gotten numerous reports about purchases being far different from what people thought.

Wheeler says here’s how the scam works: you see something like a keychain with your pet’s face on social media. When, or if it arrives, it may contain errors or be different than what the website described.

“Some of them are just trying to get you to pay and maybe you get substandard products, maybe you don’t get any products at all. You want to be careful and make sure you’re using reputable companies and do research beyond something that shows up on your social media feed or you click on a link,” said Wheeler.

Here’s how to avoid being scammed:

  • Research the company.
  • A real business should have valid contact information.
  • Look up reviews on other websites.
  • Pay with a credit card.

3. What to know if you’re using Near Field Communication

Wheeler says Near Field Communication uses a series of protocols to make transactions easier and faster. People use them to make contactless payments, share digital content, connect one device with another and a list of other tasks that gets longer every day.

But crooks are also using it to get your information.

“This is very big if someone is in close proximity to your smartphone and you have something activated that allows that near field communications they can actually get access to your information on your phone. But they have to be within four cm so typically that’s not going to happen with someone unless you know them or unless you’ve actually handed them your phone,” said Wheeler.

She says be careful. Don’t give your phone to someone if you don’t know them and if you use this technology, only activate it when you’re using it.

What are some other security tips can use to keep your data safe?

• Password protect your mobile device

• Enable two-factor authentication for all monetary transactions

• Read data usage policies before you download apps to make sure they protect your privacy

• Update installed apps regularly

• Turn your NFC off when not in use (With Android devices this is under settings. With iPhone NFC is disabled within individual apps)

• Update your device as required so you receive security patches and firmware updates

• Only use Near Field Communications with vendors and individuals you know are trustworthy

You can help spread awareness and protect others when you report scams to BBB Scam Tracker.

About the Author

You can see Jenna weekday mornings at the anchor desk on WSLS 10 Today from 5-7 a.m. She also leads our monthly Solutionaries Series, where we highlight the creative thinkers and doers working to make the world a better place.

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