There are so many different streaming services these days—from HBO Max to Peacock to Disney+—and that’s where Roku comes in to streamline the process, if you will. The popular device helps to seamlessly blend cable television and streaming services into one easy-to-use place. With so many people spending more time on their couches than ever before in the last year, business has been booming for Roku, which saw total hours streamed reach a new high of 17 billion hours in the fourth quarter of 2020, nearly double the hours streamed in the third quarter of 2019, according to The Motley Fool. But lately, the company has been having some issues, leading them to warn customers that if you see a certain message on your Roku, you need to report it immediately. Read on to find out what to look out for, and for more on another device you may use, If You’re Charging Your iPhone Like This, Apple Says Stop Immediately.
More than 51 million Americans use Roku as of Feb. 2021, which makes it an easy target for scammers. According to the company’s website, Roku customers may be targeted for activation and technical support scams, in which scammers falsely claim to be affiliated with the company and ask for activation or support fees.
“Technical support scams are an unfortunate industry-wide problem, where criminals use various forms of deception to extract personal information and gain financial favor from unsuspecting victims,” the company explains. One way they may do this is by sending you an activation message that requires you to call their “support phone number” for help, according to Roku.
If you think you’ve fallen victim to an activation scam, Roku asks that you report your experience with the company. You should also file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC), the company says.
And for another message to be wary of, check out If You Get This Message From Pfizer, Don’t Respond, Officials Say.
When you are asked to call a “support phone number,” scammers are usually trying to charge you an activation fee—which isn’t something Roku asks its customers to do. “Remember, activating your Roku device is always free and always has been,” the company states. Scammers may also try to get you to pay for help setting up your device, but Roku says there is both “no fee to set up your Roku device” and “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,” the company explains. “The Roku support site contains a number of instructional videos and articles to assist you in setting up your Roku device(s) for free, and owners of eligible products can contact an official Roku support agent as well.”
And for more recent warnings from tech giants, check out If You Own Any Apple Devices, You Need to Do This Immediately.
A Roku costumer in Michigan named Maureen McDonald ended up paying $189 after falling for an activation scam when installing her new Roku, USA Today recently reported. According to McDonald, a message flashed on her TV screen asking her to call an 800-number for help activating her Roku while she was setting it up. “For help, call this number—and that’s what I called. It looked normal,” she told USA Today, adding that the man who answered was even helpful in setting up her device. He then offered a lifetime full service plan for $189, which McDonald signed up for.
However the man called again before the year was over and McDonald said he threatened to cut off her service if she did not pay again, which is how she realized she was being scammed.
“Roku does not sell lifetime subscriptions,” the company warns on its website. “Be aware if someone tries to sell you this service.”
And for more up-to-date tips, tricks, and warnings to help you in your day-to-day life, sign up for our daily newsletter.
According to USA Today, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) has received a handful of reports of Roku tech support scams like the one that McDonald fell for, Laura Blankenship, chief of staff and director of marketing for the BBB in Eastern Michigan and the upper peninsula, told the news outlet.
In May 2020, BBB reported that customers in 25 states had allegedly fallen victim to a scam from a tech company called CaliGeeks, Inc., charging unnecessary fees to activate Roku devices. “Customers attempting to activate their Roku streaming devices and Roku enabled smart televisions told Better Business Bureau that, after seeing an error message, they were directed to call CaliGeeks, Inc,” according to the BBB. “Customers stated that they were subsequently charged an unnecessary activation fee ranging from $79.99 to $249.99 and were led to believe that this fee was required to enable their Roku device.”
And for more streaming news that could affect you, check out This Streaming Service Is Shutting Down Next Month.