EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — If you have a smart TV, listen up.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning of a scam involving popular streaming devices, such as Roku and Amazon Fire TV sticks, and services like Netflix and YouTube TV.

The BBB said it has received an influx of reports regarding scammers targeting victims through pop-ups on their smart TVs.

“Scammers can actually target victims through their devices via the internet,” BBB’s Paula Fleming explained. “Obviously, smart TVs are no exception.”

Here’s how the scam works:

The scammer typically prevents the user from logging into their streaming service through a pop-up, which states there is a problem with either the streaming device or subscription.

In order to rectify the supposed issue, the pop-up provides the user with a phone number to call or a website to visit.

Users who call the number are quickly connected with a scammer posing as a customer service representative. The representative explains that, in order to regain access to the streaming service or device, the user must pay activation fee or give them remote control of their smart TV.

The scammers can also gain access to smart TVs when users click on the links provided in the pop-ups. Once in control, the scammers can install malware on the device and collect sensitive personal information.

The BBB said in one instance, the scammers convinced a user to pay them in gift cards to add “anti-hacking protection” to their account.

“You don’t want to fall for this,” Fleming said. “It’s very easy to want to get your device working, and that instant satisfaction of thinking it is going to [be resolved] leaves you a perfect target for these scam artists.”

Here’s how to avoid smart TV scams:

  • Double-check any fees you have to pay. If scammers ask you to pay an activation fee, antivirus protection fee or any other kind of fee, do some research beforehand.
  • Don’t fall for fake websites. Scammers love to create imitation websites using URLs that are just a letter or two off. Fake websites are a threat, even on smart TVs, so double-check the URL. Another way to protect yourself is to avoid clicking on links in pop-ups and, instead, type web URLs directly into your browser.
  • Check before you call. If a “customer service” phone number appears in a pop-up, double-check it before you call by comparing it to the number listed on the streaming service or TV manufacturer’s website.
  • Never let anyone control your device remotely. Scammers usually ask for remote computer access, but they could also ask for access to your smart TV. Don’t ever give control of your device to a stranger.

Anyone who believes they’ve fallen victim to a suspected scam is urged to report it using the BBB Scam Tracker.

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