With the novel coronavirus keeping people indoors and left to entertain themselves, there has been, understandably, an increase in people watching shows and features online on the best movie and TV streaming sites such as Netflix and Hulu.
But if there was something else to be worried about and the watch out for, it's the threat of scammers.
According to Bitdefender, scammers are now targeting consumers with offers of free Netflix for "the period of isolation" via text messages and WhatsApp messages. Included in the messages is a link to get the free offer with a link to "netflix-usa.net" (note: this is not the link to the Netflix streaming platform - you can find the real one here). A similar scam text message is being sent in Spanish.
Unfortunately, people who click on the link can be tricked into believing that the offer is real. A screen will prompt scam targets to input the contact information of 10 friends to redeem the free offer - if you do this, you're also exposing them and their information to malicious text messages, ads, and downloads.
While Netflix is implementing measures and is rolling out features to help spend time at home a little more bearable, such as the Chrome extension Netflix Party, it's not offering the service for free, and is certainly not doing so by text message.
If you receive the offer, just delete it, then sign up for one of the best identity theft protection services to help monitor your information and accounts.
Scams are on the rise during quarantine
Unfortunately, this Netflix scam isn't the only one out there. There's been a rise in scams since most people started working from home or simply starting to spend more time at home. There's a simple way you can check whether or not a message you've received is a scam: do your research. Look up the offer online, if you've gotten one, or check the name of a charity for red flags if you get a request to donate money. It never hurts to double check the source and what exactly you're signing up for. We've listed a number of other scams to watch out for.
- Fake CDC emails: If you receive any email claiming to be the CDC, carefully consider whether or not the information contained within is likely to be true. Don't open any attachments within the email, which can contain malware that will infect your computer.
- Phishing emails: Phishing emails will ask you to confirm your information for an account or an issue related to the coronavirus, such as a request for you to verify your information in order to receive the economic stimulus check that's slated to go out. Other phishing emails may be related to charitable contributions, financial relief, flight refunds, fake cures and vaccines, and fake testing kits.
- Emails pertaining to cures or vaccines for COVID-19. Fake equipment may also be for sale in these emails.
Remember: in these scary times, you don't want to add to any stress you may already be experiencing. Simple steps can prevent you from becoming a victim of identity theft or scams attempting to steal your information or money. Practice smart browsing by installing one of the best VPN services, don't open any suspicious emails with free offers, don't open any mysterious attachments in those emails, and don't provide any of your personal information such as usernames, passwords, date of birth, social security number, and financial data to unverified sites. Finally, check for misspellings or wrong domains - these are usually indicative of scams.