Free Netflix Offer Is a Text Message Scam, BBB Cautions

February 01, 2021

Video streaming services like Netflix have become essential for countless people stuck at home, whether because of the COVID-19 pandemic or the winter’s cold. Under such circumstances, an offer of free Netflix for a year might seem like a lifeline too good to ignore. Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises consumers to be wary of such a “deal,” one of many ways scammers are cashing in on the demand for streaming platforms.

BBB Scam Tracker has received reports of consumers receiving a text message saying something like “Due to the pandemic, Netflix is offering everyone a free year of service to help you stay at home. Click the link to sign up.” Clicking the link takes the consumer to a website to fill out personal and payment information. However, the website is not run by Netflix, and the consumer has just handed that information over to a scammer.

A consumer in Hillsboro, Missouri, reported receiving the free Netflix offer in late January 2020. The consumer said the text message contained a link to a website that was a string of letters and numbers not associated with Netflix. The consumer did not click the link.

Phishing scams like this are extremely common. BBB Scam Tracker received about 5,700 phishing scam reports last year, and about 15% of those involved initial contact by text message. This form of phishing is sometimes called “smishing.”

“Free Netflix may be highly tempting at a time when video streaming has become an ubiquitous pastime, but if an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is,” said Michelle L. Corey, BBB St. Louis president and CEO. “Consumers should look closely before taking advantage of such an offer, or they risk identity theft or money loss.”

Tips for avoiding text message scams:

Don’t believe every text you receive. As a general rule, companies can’t send you text messages unless you opt in to receive them. If you receive a text message from a company you haven’t given permission to contact you in this way, proceed with caution.

Go straight to the source. If an offer seems strange, or too good to be true, contact the company directly by looking up their official contact information online. Call or email customer service to find out if the text message you received is legitimate.

Take a close look at web addresses. If you follow a link in a text message that you believe is legitimate, examine the web address carefully before you take any action to make sure you are visiting a company’s official website and not a look-alike.

Ignore instructions to text “STOP” or “NO.” Even if you realize the message is a scam, don’t text back for any reason. Scammers may want you to text back to verify that your phone number is an active one. Instead, simply block the number so you won’t receive messages from it in the future.

Change your password. Even if you don’t fall for this scam, Netflix advises its customers to change their password if they’ve been targeted.

For assistance, call 888-996-3887 or go to bbb.org.



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