With the number of Roku users now surpassing 51 million users, the platform has become an attractive target for scammers looking to take advantage of unsuspecting users. One of the more popular scams you should keep an eye out for involves a fraudulent activation page designed to steal sensitive personal information or solicit payment.
As Roku details on its website, hackers targeting Roku users have become more sophisticated in recent years and have even gone so far as to take out Google ads so that their fraudulent pages appear at the top of Google search pages. Additionally, these fake websites masquerading as official Roku pages have no qualms about using official Roku logos and even employing seemingly legitimate URLs like roku.activation and roku.link. Interestingly, the company notes that search queries for Roku support represent the most common attack vector used by scammers.
As a rule of thumb, you should be wary of any webpage that claims your activation code didn’t work and, in turn, asks you to call a support number. In this particular scam, the scam artists will ask for your credit card information so they can “activate” your account. Roku, of course, is free and has never required any type of activation fee.
In a similar vein, any messages that pop claiming that they’ll help you set up a Roku account or asking for money to get your device up and running should be ignored.
Aside from activation and setup scams, Roku’s support website details a few other common scams the company urges users to be on the lookout for:
Scams charging to create a Roku account: If you speak on the phone with someone posing as a “Roku support agent” and they want to charge your credit card to create a Roku account or to register your player, hang up! There is never a charge to create a Roku account. When you set up and activate your Roku device, you are prompted to create your free account, or if you prefer, you can create your Roku account ahead of time by visiting roku.com/signup.
Scams selling service or support subscriptions: Do not pay for a monthly or annual subscription with the promise of help with wireless network issues, remote control problems, or other technical issues. You will likely never get to use your subscription as most scammers pack up and close shop before you get the assistance you need. For help with these types of technical issues, visit the Roku support site, or connect with other customers on the Roku Community.
Scams taking control of your Roku device: Beware of scammers who try and activate your Roku device using their own Roku account. If successful, they can disable your Roku device at any time and demand credit card payment for reactivation. Always activate your Roku device yourself using your own valid email address and a strong, secure password.
Scams seeking access to your computer: Do not grant remote access to your computer even if a scammer claims to be able to use it to activate your Roku device or resolve a technical issue. This tactic is often used to install malicious software and access it to steal your personal and financial information. Some scammers even ask you to pay for the software with a promise that it prevents viruses and helps your computer run faster.
Scams selling access to channel bundles or lifetime programming: Premium channels can be installed and subscribed to directly from your Roku device, and you can enter existing subscription details for other paid channels, but Roku does not sell lifetime subscriptions. Be aware if someone tries to sell you this service.
To stay safe, it’s imperative that any support page you’re looking at is directly from Roku.com.
If you’ve already handed out financial information, you should contact your bank and keep an eye out for any suspicious charges on your credit card. You’ll also want to change your Roku password and remove any software you may have been asked to install as part of a fake activation or setup process.
And speaking of Roku-related scams, you may recall the uproar that ensued after an iOS developer highlighted how an unofficial third-party Roku remote app — riddled with bugs and adware — managed to use hundreds of fake reviews to yield prime placement in App Store search results and, in turn, steal money from unsuspecting users via in-app subscriptions.
One legitimate review of the app said: “This is a third-party app developed to trick people into downloading and paying for something that’s free if you have a Roku. They buy adds [sic] for ‘Roku Remote’ but the app is ‘Roki Remote.'”