More people are staying home during the coronavirus pandemic. To pass the time at home, more people are watching streaming services like Netflix. Beware of a recent scam promising free Netflix for a year.

The Better Business Bureau has gotten reports of people receiving a text message that claims Netflix is offering everyone a free year of service, and encourages them to click the link to sign up. But, if you click, you’ll be taken to a website to fill out your personal information and add a payment method.

However, the website it takes you to is not Netflix. Anyone who 'signs up' gives their personal information to a scammer. If you add payment information, you may be charged for services you’ll never receive.

One victim told BBB Scam Tracker their credit card was charged repeatedly – even after they asked for a refund. “The scammers said no other money would be taken out of my account again. Then, about a week later, they took $39.99, and I called and asked for a refund. They told me 3 days at first. Then, after 3 days I called back, and they told me 7-10 business days. It’s been 10 business days. And now I have no refund.”

With many legitimate businesses using text messages to communicate with customers, scammers have come up with their own SMS cons, often called “smishing” (for SMS phishing) scams.

The BBB offers tips to avoid text messaging scams:

  • Don’t believe every text you receive. Usually companies can’t send you text messages unless you opt in. If you receive a text message from a company you haven’t given permission to text you, proceed with caution.
  • Go straight to the source. If an offer seems strange, or too good to be true, contact the company directly. Call or email customer service to find out if the text message you received is real.
  • Take a close look at web addresses. If you follow a link in a text message 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. Scammers may want you to text back to verify your phone number is an active one. 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.
  • How can you tell if emails or text are really coming from Netflix?

    Netflix warns customers, they will never ask for personal information in a text or email or request payment through a 3rd party vendor or website.

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