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If You Get This Message From Netflix, Delete It Immediately, FBI Warns

Be wary of any communications claiming to be from the streaming service that ask this.

Whether you're watching one of your favorite classic movies or binging a brand new show, Netflix has become a household name that's practically synonymous with TV. After all, it's the most popular streaming service in the world, with over 74 million subscribers in the U.S. and Canada and 214 million globally as of November 2021, according to CNBC. Unfortunately, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) warns that this has also made Netflix a tool for potential scammers targeting unsuspecting victims with a specific message. Read on to see how you can avoid putting your personal information at risk.

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Scammers are sending text messages claiming to be from Netflix.

a hacker doxing someone online

According to authorities, you should beware of any text messages you receive claiming to be from Netflix alerting you to a potential issue with your account status. In many cases, it will direct you to visit an included link to update your information and "keep watching."

Unfortunately, if scammers are successful in getting you to visit the webpage, they could quickly exploit your phone or computer. "You'll have a loss of access to your device, sometimes. You'll have afforded somebody access to your device, and you'll possibly lose personally identifiable information," Aaron Rouse, a Special Agent In Charge from the FBI's Las Vegas office, tells local NBC affiliate KSNV. "So it's something that we just like we say with email. If you didn't ask for it, don't click on it."

The latest scam attempt is what's known as "smishing," which uses text messages instead of emails.

A person pointing a remote control at a TV with the Netflix logo on it

Rouse says the deceptive message involving Netflix is known as a "smishing" scam. Similar to the "phishing" scams seen over email, this version relies on texts that also try to lure potential victims into disclosing information or clicking on a link. He says that similar fraud schemes are becoming increasingly popular, including different versions that claim a recipient has won a prize for paying their AT&T bill.

"Smishing is the latest form of scams out there in the very useful world of telecommunications," said Rouse. "We love our devices. We love being able to go online and communicate with anyone we want and have access to all of these things. But that provides a portal for bad guys to do bad things."

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You should report any suspicious messages by forwarding them to authorities.

young woman looking confused and looking at cell phone

Rouse says it's essential to pay attention to the types of messages you receive to avoid falling for the scam. "If you didn't ask for it, if you didn't solicit information regarding that, don't click on links. Verify who is sending you that information. It's very easy to do," he suggests.

But just because you think you've received a message from a familiar number doesn't mean you're in the clear. According to the AARP, scammers can use something known as caller ID "spoofing" to make a text look like it's coming from your local area code or a legitimate-seeming sender. If you're in doubt, use a phone number or contact form for the company in question by visiting their site directly to verify its legitimacy and never clicking any attached links. If it turns out to be bogus, you should forward the message to 7726 (SPAM) so that your mobile provider can investigate it.

Once you've forwarded the scam message, you should delete them.

Woman Typing a Text Message.

Even though "smishing" scams are becoming more common, there's still plenty you can do to cut down on the number you receive. The AAPR suggests checking if your phone has built-in spam protection that can often be activated in your messaging app. And call-blocking apps are also available that can help cut down on potentially suspicious texts.

Ultimately, Rouse says that once you've passed along the message to authorities, you should get them out of your inbox. "If you're getting unsolicited texts, do what I do: delete them," he suggests.

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Zachary Mack
Zach is a freelance writer specializing in beer, wine, food, spirits, and travel. He is based in Manhattan. Read more
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