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If you get a text message for a free year of Netflix, you’re being scammed

Published Jan 20th, 2021 5:53PM EST
Free Netflix scam
Image: Jacob Siegal/Netflix

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  • The Better Business Bureau’s Scam Tracker has received “numerous reports” about text message scams offering a free year of Netflix in recent weeks.
  • Fraudulent text messages are being sent to victims with links to websites that aren’t run by Netflix in an attempt to collect their private information.
  • Some victims have entered credit card numbers and had money stolen from their bank accounts.

2020 is finally over, but we’re all still doing our best to avoid crowds and stay safe as the pandemic rages on. As such, streaming services continue to have outsized importance as we count down the days until we can get back to normal, which is why you should be especially wary of offers for those services that seem too good to be true.

Last week, the Better Business Bureau issued an alert on its site about scams involving the top streaming service in the world. According to the BBB, numerous reports have been sent to the organization’s Scam Tracker in recent days from people who received text messages from illegitimate sources about getting Netflix for free. Here’s what one such text message that was forwarded to the BBB looks 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.

Inevitably, if you follow the link in the text, you’ll end up on a website that is not run by Netflix and which collects your personal information when you try to sign up for an account. A victim told the BBB that they handed over their credit card information and were then charged multiple times, even after reaching out for a refund.

If you want to avoid being the victim of a text message scam, follow these tips from the Better Business Bureau:

  • 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. Click here for more tips from Netflix.

To sum up, just don’t respond to text messages unless you know exactly who sent them, and never click links coming from unknown senders. If you want Netflix for free, just borrow a friend’s password like the rest of us.

Jacob Siegal
Jacob Siegal Associate Editor

Jacob Siegal is Associate Editor at BGR, having joined the news team in 2013. He has over a decade of professional writing and editing experience, and helps to lead our technology and entertainment product launch and movie release coverage.