Smart TVs are terrific.  Unlike old television sets that were not connected to the internet, smart TVs are connected to the internet which means that you can stream movies from Netflix and other streaming services, play video games and access a wide variety of apps.  They do have a downside in that they often are gathering information about you and invading your privacy, but that is a topic for another column at another time.  Today, I want to warn you about recent reports of people trying to log in to their streaming service only to find a pop-up that tells them that there is a problem with either your television or your streaming subscription.  The pop-up provides either a phone number or a website to use to remedy the problem.

The problem is, however, that your smart TV has been hacked and the message is coming from a scammer.  If you call the number or go to the website provided you will reach a customer service representative who asks for a small activation fee by credit card, debit card or gift card.  Anytime you are asked for a payment by way of a gift card, you know it is a scam and if you provide your credit card or debit card information, the scammer will quickly proceed to run up charges.  Anything that is connected to the Internet can be hacked and your smart TV is no exception, but many people don’t realize that their smart TV is vulnerable to being hacked.


The key to hacking your smart TV is your router.  Many people don’t bother to change the default password on their router and therefore leave themselves extremely vulnerable to hackers who use the readily available default passwords to get access to your router and the devices connected to it.  As an additional line of defense you should also have a strong, complex password for your smart TV as well.

Also, many people ignore software updates for their smart TV although they wouldn’t do so for their computers, laptops or phones. It is important to update your smart TV’s software whenever such updates are made available to keep the smart TV more secure

If you have any thought that the pop-up may be legitimate, don’t call the phone number provided or go to the website provided.  Instead call your streaming service’s customer service number which you can get from their real websites.

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