To say that Netflix has revolutionized the way we watch TV and movies would be something of an understatement. It started out in 1997 as a DVD-rental-by-mail service. You would put movies into your “queue” and, as you returned previous rentals, the next ones on your list would be sent out automatically.
2007 brought a shift to streaming. Netflix sought to remain competitive in this new environment by building up a vast catalogue of films and TV shows, and allowing subscribers to view them commercial-free. In 2013, they premiered their first original series. Now, Netflix Originals includes a vast array of exclusive, award-winning content.
They call themselves the future of TV, a claim that’s hard to counter. The service is still so popular, and the content so in-demand, there’s little denying Netflix’s supremacy.
However, when something is as in-demand as Netflix content, there are bound to be those who try to take advantage for their own gain. Scammers, hackers, and the like abound to get their cut. This they do by trying to victimize the Netflix subscriber base. But if you are a subscriber, you can fight back against scams and unauthorized access to your account. The following guide will show you how.
(Do you use a streaming service other than Netflix? Check out our other Streaming Service Scams guides for help with other major providers.)
Popular Scams Associated with Netflix
When it comes to Netflix, scammers either want your log-in information to access your account or to steal your credit card information:
The most common phishing emails associated with Netflix involve requests to subscribers to confirm or reset their log-in information. This could be due to some supposed suspicious activity on your account or Netflix wanting to help you improve your account’s security. Clicking on any links in the email to fulfill this request will lead to a spoofed version of the Netflix site.
Another phishing approach is to directly ask for payment. The claim will point to a failed payment, one that will result in immediate suspension of your Netflix account. Such immediacy is intended to create panic and the unquestioning clicking of provided links to give a credit card number. Again, a spoofed website sends your information to the wrong people.
Recent incarnations of these scams use CAPTCHAs and then redirect users to the actual Netflix site to give the process an added level of legitimacy. You don’t know you’ve been scammed until its too late.
With either phishing attempt, any suggestion that your account will be closed or locked within a day should immediately raise a red flag. Netflix would never be so hard-nosed about an account problem as to threaten closing it down so quickly. Look closely at the email you’ve received. Is the wording grammatically correct? Is the sender email valid (eg. from an @netflix.com address)? Hover your cursor over any links in the body of the email to see if the destinations look legitimate.
If at any time you feel an email is suspicious, contact Netflix directly through the company website to confirm. While you’re there, log-in directly to confirm if there’s a problem with your account or not.
Another recent scam has involved a claim for free passes to Netflix on social media and via text message. It is essentially a way to try to grab the attention of those stuck in isolation during the pandemic. Of course, as awesome as it sounds, the offer is false.
Clicking on any links associated with such a scam leaves your device and information vulnerable and exposed to whoever created the message. If you receive a message like this, take time to recognize its “too good to be true” aspects. That, paired with the stilted, grammatically questionable wording, should indicate that it’s not a legitimate offer.
In other words, scroll on by such messages on social media. Or if you get it as a text, delete.
How to Find Out if Your Netflix Account Was Hacked
Getting access to content for free is the ultimate goal of the Netflix hacker. How do you know if your account has been hacked?
Odd Viewing Patterns
Some hackers may try to fly under the radar, and use your account to access content without you knowing. But what they cannot hide is the content that’s being viewed. If you see shows you haven’t watched starting to show up under your “Recently Watched” selections, you may have a hacker. With your suspicions raised, you can further confirm them by:
- Logged-in to Netflix, go to your account.
- Click on “viewing activity.”
- Click on “recent device streaming activity.”
- See if there are any unknown/foreign devices that have recently accessed your account. If so, you will need to take steps to block those unauthorized users (see below).
You Can’t Get Access
Other hackers, once they have gained access to your account, will choose to take it over completely. This involves them changing your log-in information so only they can use the account moving forward.
Steps You Should Take to Block Hackers
In the first hacking scenario, your immediate priority should be to eliminate hacker access now and moving forward. To do so, click “sign out of all devices.” This should include anything a hacker used to access your account. Then, log-in again on your device and:
- Click on “More.”
- Go to “app settings.”
- Change your password.
- If you have Gmail connected to your account, enable 2-step authentication as an extra security precaution.
- Go to your Account.
- On the Membership & Billing page, reset your password.
- Click on the box requiring all devices to use this new password moving forward.
- Save your new settings.
The second instance, where a hacker accesses and then changes your account information is, unfortunately, difficult to resolve. If all of your account information has been changed, it can be hard to prove your original ownership of the account. But you can still contact the Netflix support team and see if they can help you get your account back.
This post is one in a series about managing streaming service scams. Others include:
For more information about scams in general, you can find it on the PeopleFinders blog.
Photo credit: Bogdan Glisik – www.shutterstock.com