Watch Out for “Free” Movie and Television Scams During Big Events
One of the many wonderful gifts the Internet has given us is the ability to stream television, movies and sporting events, virtually anywhere and at any time. The onset of streaming media has opened up a world of legitimate video content providers, which is great, however, you need to be sure that you are obtaining your content from the right sites.
Since streaming video content has become mostly commonplace, cybercriminals have taken notice, and are spreading spyware and malware on many social media platforms via comments. They are baiting users with the offering of free first run movies, popular television shows and events. Using shortened links such as bit.ly to mask the true URL, once a victim clicks on the link, they are redirected to a false site that claims to provide the content.
How to Spot a Fake Site
- Illegal file-sharers and malicious scammers don't put a lot of effort into designing their sites. Compared to a legitimate business site, spoofed, or fake websites contain easy to spot errors, such as grammatical and spelling mistakes. Graphics are missing, unprofessional, or totally out of context with the rest of the material. Fonts are inconsistent or unreadable.
- Once the user clicks on the video player, they will then be redirected to a fake website, alerting the user that they have been infected with malware or that they need to download a video plug-in in order to properly play. That “plug-in” is actually malware in disguise, waiting to infect your computer. In the case of the popup warning, users will then be directed to call a phone number for technical support, which will offer the victim cleanup of the infection for a fee.
- Another sign of an illegitimate website is ads. Not just an occasional embedded advertisement, but intrusive and persistent pop-up ads, banners and even malware warnings will show up constantly. Since these sites don’t make money using subscription services, they use online advertising to gain revenue.
- Beware of the never-ending link. Once you’ve found the content you want to watch, you then click the movie title or graphic. The site directs you to another page with another link. You click the movie title again. You're directed again, to yet another page filled with more links to the same movie title, but you never end up actually accessing the content. The purpose of this scheme is to try to trick users into sharing personal information or generate revenue by clicking ads.
- Legitimate streaming companies usually charge a small subscription fee for accessing their content. If a website claims to have all free content, beware. It could be a scam, or just a site illegally streaming pirated content, which is equally as bad.
If something looks too good to be true, it probably is.
- To stay protected, DO NOT call any phone numbers, click on any links or download anything from these fraudulent posts.
- Instead, DO make sure you are running an up-to-date Internet Security software program such as Norton and scan your computer for malicious files.
- Make sure you are watching content from a legitimate and well-known site that has properly licensed the content for streaming.
- Additionally, make sure you keep all of your software updated, as this can patch any security holes these scammers may be trying to exploit.
- If in doubt about a website, you can use our free tool, Norton Safe Web to check out if you’re in the clear.