Smart televisions connected to the Internet which allow you to access popular streaming services such as Netflix or Disney+ are very convenient.  Generally, whenever you install an app on your smart television you are required to go to an activation page online to complete the installation which will join your streaming service account with your television.  In order to install YouTube on your smart television you must download the app to your television which will respond by providing you with an activation code to use to complete the process online at the URL youtube.com/activate.  Some people however, will use search engines such as Google Chrome to confirm that the URL is legitimate.  Unfortunately, people are reporting doing a search engine search and being directed to a phony, but legitimate appearing YouTube page where if you type in the activation code a notice will indicate that there is an error and provides a  telephone number for customer service for you to call.  If you call the number, you are instructed that you are required to pay a refundable fee in order to activate your account.  Often the payment is requested in the form of a Zelle, Venmo or gift card payment.  Once you make payment by any of these methods, your money is lost forever and your account is not activated.

TIPS

Zelle and Venmo should not be used for business purposes.  Their use should be restricted to payments to family members and friends.  These services are easy and convenient, but they do not provide the protection from fraud you get when you pay for something with your credit card.  Businesses that ask for payments by Zelle or Venmo should be immediately suspect.  As for gift cards, they are not meant to be used for payment for business services.  No legitimate business asks for payment by way of a gift card.  Anytime you are asked to pay for something through the use of a gift card it is a scam.  It is as simple as that.

As I have warned you in the past, scammers are able to manipulate the algorithms used by Google Chrome and others search engines so that their phony websites will appear high in a search.  This scam has been used quite often by scammers posing as legitimate companies providing customer service telephone numbers for the companies, some of which do not have customer service telephone numbers at all.

In the case of YouTube the simple way to avoid the problem is to make sure you are using the only correct URL which is youtube.com/activate.

For those of you receiving the Scam of the day through an email, I just want to remind you that if you want to see the ever increasing list of Coronavirus scams go to the first page of the http://www.scamicide.com website and click on the tab at the top of the page that indicates “Coronavirus Scams.”  Scamicide has been cited by the New York Times as one of three top sources for information about Coronavirus related scams.

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