In 2005, YouTube was launched by three former employees of PayPal. It started out as a simple, centralized hub for video content. But it has since evolved into a content powerhouse. YouTube stars make millions off advertising. 500 hours of content are estimated to be uploaded to the site every minute. A billion hours are watched every day, all around the world. And the site is second behind only Google (which acquired YouTube in 2006) in online visits.
Given its powerful position and specialty in video streaming, it only made sense that YouTube would eventually delve into the streaming of network TV shows, movies, and original content. In 2017, it launched its YouTube TV subscription service. For a set fee, users get access to live TV, DVR capabilities, and multiple accounts/streams for all the members of a household. Plus, you get the option to access premium channel content for an additional fee.
YouTube is already a prime target for scammers. The added YouTube TV service just makes it that much more appealing. How can you tell if you are about to be the victim of a YouTube scam? How can you identify if someone already has access to your account? What ways are there to stop them to begin with?
Read the following guide to find out more about some of the common scams associated with YouTube, how to verify if your account has been hacked, and then how to keep out any unauthorized users.
(Do you use a streaming service other than YouTube TV? Check out our other Streaming Service Scams guides for help with other major providers.)
Popular Scams Associated with YouTube
You will note that this particular scam is not specifically focused on the YouTube TV streaming service. But it can still affect these users.
The parent site has been criticized for its sometimes lax-seeming vetting process of uploaded videos. This includes dangerous conspiracy theories, criminal activity, and pornography. Scams present other problematic content.
YouTube content can be a powerful and convincing marketing tool. But that doesn’t mean that all advertising videos tell the truth. Scammers rely on viewers believing what they see without much questioning.
One type of scam that has gotten extra publicity lately is what’s called a crypto scam. On YouTube, a hacker gets access to a known and trusted influencer’s account and represents themselves as a crypto exchange company. Then, they promote a supposed giveaway: send in one crypto with the potential to get two back.
Except, that will never happen. Any crypto sent to the wallets of fake accounts is gone forever, along with the hacker. YouTube has stepped in and helped legitimate users to get their accounts back. But that hasn’t completely stopped this scam from sneaking through.
Scammers will do whatever they can to get access to people’s legitimate accounts. One of the most popular approaches is phishing, or sending a fake–but still official-looking–email.
In the case of YouTube TV, a scammer will send an email in which they present themselves as an official technical or customer support representative. The message implies that there could a problem with your account. Maybe there was suspicious activity, or a payment failed. Either way, you need to reply to the email or click on a link to confirm your log-in or payment information.
Except, doing so may give the scammer access to your account or even your device. Clicking on a link can result in malware being uploaded to your device. Or, you may find yourself on a spoofed website that steals your log-in information as soon as you enter it.
To keep those things from happening, take the time to look over an email like this carefully for the following red flags:
- See if the language seems particularly urgent, or if there are any grammatical or spelling errors.
- Verify the sender’s email address. See if it is spelled correctly and if it is coming from a legitimate source.
- Do the same thing with any buttons or links in the email.
- Hover your cursor over any links and see what the destinations are. If they are not legitimate YouTube addresses, you have a scam on your hands.
How to Find Out if Your YouTube TV Account Was Hacked
If someone manages to get access to your YouTube TV account without your permission, one of the most obvious signs will probably be unexpected purchases.
Before you immediately worry about an unauthorized user though, you should first confirm that other members in your household didn’t actually make the questionable purchase. Once you’ve done that, then you can report the fraudulent charges to the YouTube TV support team.
After that, you should probably change your password to ensure that any further unauthorized access doesn’t happen.
Steps You Should Take to Block Hackers
In order to keep anyone from getting access to your YouTube account or YouTube TV membership, you should take the following steps:
- Regularly check your account information and purchase history.
- Doublecheck that only authorized members of your household are listed in your account.
- Make sure your password is sufficiently complex and unique, which makes it difficult for hackers to get past.
- Don’t ever share log-in information with anyone outside your household. You never know where that info might end up.
- If anyone ever requests such information, think before you act. Staying cool and calm is probably your best defense against a scam or hack.
Almost from the day it launched, YouTube has been a big target for scammers. That makes its children, like YouTube TV, similarly big targets. Fortunately, the company is vigilant in its fight against scammers, as well as against bad content in general. So, if you do ever find yourself a victim of a scam, they will be there to help get you back to safe and happy streaming.
This post is one in a series about managing streaming service scams. Others include:
For more information about other kinds of scams, you can find it on the PeopleFinders blog.
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