People have been searching for free content online since before the days of Napster. From music to the latest Hollywood movies, the desire to watch and listen to free content is strong.
But you need to be careful when looking for free streaming services. We recently told you about websites claiming to have free movies starring some of the most famous actors around that are actually designed to infect your device with malware. Tap or click here for our full report.
Hollywood blockbusters aren’t the only content you need to be wary of, though. Now that football season is kicking off, malicious sites claiming to offer streaming games are popping up everywhere. Keep reading for the shady details and ways to avoid these clever scams.
Here’s the backstory
When the COVID pandemic began, schools restricted entry into events. This led many high schools across the U.S. to start offering livestreams of football games. Instead of seeing games in person, parents could watch their kids play online for free.
Even though most schools are back to normal and allow people to attend games in person, many are still streaming the games online. According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), scammers have taken advantage of this and are putting up malicious sites to rip people off.
According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), scammers infiltrate social media by looking for people who want to know how they can watch the games. BBB said, “The scammers’ goal is to capture personal information, including credit card and Social Security numbers, as fans log in to watch their team play.”
How streaming sports scams work
Many of these scams are rooted in social media. Fans search sites like Facebook and Twitter to find links to livestream games. BBB says scammers are posting links to free livestream games. But when you click the link, you’re asked to sign up for the streaming platform with personal information and sometimes payment data.
Unfortunately, you won’t be watching the game you’re hoping to. Instead, you’ve just handed personal data and possibly banking information over to thieves.
“Fans need to remain diligent in where and how they find the stream of a high school contest,” Matt Troha, an Assistant Executive Director with the Illinois High School Association, told BBB.
What you can do about it
Sports fans are always looking for ways to catch games. But you need to be careful of where you find streaming links. As BBB points out, you could end up on a malicious site looking to steal personal information or even infect your device with malware.
“If you want to watch a specific school’s game online, check with the school to see if it has streaming options available,” said Michelle L. Corey, president and CEO of the BBB office in St. Louis. “While many schools do offer livestreaming now, there are others who do not.”
To avoid these types of streaming scams, BBB offered the following suggestions:
- Research any website before paying money or entering information – Check the company’s BBB Business Profile at BBB.org to ensure it’s legit.
- Pay by credit card whenever possible – This helps if you need to dispute a payment, as credit cards have more protections than debit.
- Check a site’s security settings – If the site is secure, its URL (web address) should start with HTTPS://.
- Be careful with links – Clicking through to links included in social media posts, unsolicited text messages, or emails can be dangerous. Clicking on unfamiliar links can place you at risk for malware or identity theft. It’s always better to type an official URL into your browser than follow links from unsolicited messages or social media posts.
Another good piece of advice is always to have a trusted antivirus program updated and running on all your devices. That way, you can avoid malware if you end up on a malicious site. We recommend our sponsor, TotalAV. Get an annual plan with TotalAV for only $19 at ProtectWithKim.com. That’s over 85% off the regular price!