Netflix account takeover is more prevalent than ever, and you need to know what it is, what to do about it, and how to protect all your streaming accounts.
What is a Netflix Takeover Scam?
Imagine you wake up one morning, grab your cell phone, and see an email from Netflix that you logged into your account somewhere in the night from a location far away. You know you were sleeping, so it makes no sense. You run to the computer, try to log into your Netflix account, and find you have been locked out. Someone has taken over your account without your permission and stolen it. Now you can’t use it, but you are still paying for it because your credit card number is locked inside with the hacker.
Why Do Hackers Bother?
Some hackers steal your account and keep using it for as long as they can. Typically, people pay with a debit or credit card, and it’s automatically charged each month, so until you cancel the card or realize your account has been hacked, you may not even notice someone else is drafting off your account.
Hackers steal your Netflix or other streaming accounts because they can sell the login on the dark web. Netflix logins sometimes go for $1 apiece or more. With a massive list from a data breach, a budding hacker could make a good amount of money.
How Do They Hack Your Netflix Account?
Most often, if someone is able to get into your Netflix account, it is through credential stuffing. That is when hackers acquire lists of known usernames/password combos that work on other websites, and they try them all over the internet to find out if they unlock others.
Unfortunately, if you reuse any passwords, you are vulnerable to credential stuffing. Since so many data breaches have occurred, many that included plain text usernames/passwords, your information is probably out there.
What to Do If It Happens To You
If you do find out one day that someone has taken over your Netflix account, you can fix it. Call the 800-number on Netflix’s website and speak with an account representative.
Tell them exactly what has happened. They may ask you for some security question answers to verify you are the correct owner (such as the last four digits of the credit card on file). They will first secure the account by changing your email address to another one that you supply. Next, they will change the password and turn on two-factor authentication so that it won’t happen again.
If the hacker added any user profiles, you can then log into your Netflix account with the new password supplied by the account rep and delete them. They may have added movies and TV shows to your queue as well. Clean that up and then take the next steps.
Additional Identity Theft Protection Step to Take
The next steps to take would be:
- Cancel the credit card on file and ask your bank for a new one.
- Change the password from the one the account representative gave you to something very strong and hard to guess.
- Keep a close eye on your bank statements and Netflix account from now on.
Accessing your Netflix account is only one aspect of identity theft. With enough information, cybercriminals can take over a lot more than just your digital accounts.
How You Can Protect Yourself Going Forward
Any type of account takeover is scary and frustrating. If they access your financial information, it can be even worse. Some other steps to ensure your digital security and privacy are:
- Sign up for identity theft monitoring with a solid, reputable company.
- NEVER reuse passwords on multiple websites.
- Always use long, strong passwords with a combination of letters (uppercase and lowercase), numbers, and symbols.
- Sign up for two-factor authentication on all your accounts so that if someone tries to log in who isn’t you, you will get a text message with a code that needs to be entered before logging in. It adds an additional layer of security you need.
- Keep all your devices updated with security patches.
- Install and use good antivirus/anti-malware software on all your computers and mobile devices.
- Keep abreast of data breaches, especially those that you are involved in.
- Get copies of your credit report and examine them closely for signs of identity theft.
- Review all your bank and credit card accounts monthly, looking for anything suspicious.
- Never log onto public Wi-Fi and connect to accounts without a VPN. Hackers use man-in-the-middle attacks to steal passwords and other personal information this way.
- Change your passwords often for maximum security.
Your best protection going forward is going to be common sense. Keep a close eye on your digital life and periodically review accounts, passwords, and personal information that you may not want to be exposed.