CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP) – Since the COVID-19 pandemic, people have turned to online streaming of games, where people can enjoy the game in the comfort of their own home, rather than sitting in the stands. Schemers, however, have found a way to turn this positive into a negative.

According to the Better Business Bureau (BBB), schemers aim to capture personal information, such as credit cards and Social Security numbers, as fans log in to watch their favorite team play. 

Say you want to watch the local high school’s football game, so you search on social media to find a link where the game might be streamed, and a fan has put in a link where you can watch the game for free! It’s almost time for the game to start, so you click on the link. The next screen asks you to sign up for the streaming service, so you enter your name and email, and then you get asked for a credit card number and more sensitive information.

These schemers like to infiltrate social media with links to fake streams. The posts will sometimes tag the schools involved to make the post appear real. The schemers hope that the viewer inputs their information and pays to watch the event. The consumer does not even get to watch the game because the schemer has not set up a stream, and any information the consumer entered may be compromised.  

“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.  

Troha said that fake streaming links posted to social media is meant to lure unsuspecting fans.  

“On Twitter especially, take notice of account names and photos, which often seem random, and look at their follower and following numbers,” said Troha. “Low follower counts indicate the account likely was just started. Look at the content of their posts as most are nothing but tweets to stream games.” 

“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 live streaming now, there are others who do not.” 

Luckily, BBB has provided some tips on how to avoid these types of schemes.

  • Research any website before paying any money or entering any information.
  • Pay by credit card whenever possible if you need to challenge the payment. 
  • Check a site’s security settings. If the site is secure, its URL (web address) should start with “HTTPS://.” You may also see a picture of a small closed lock in the screen’s lower right-hand corner. 
  • Be cautious before clicking through to links included in social media posts, unsolicited text messages, or emails. Clicking on unfamiliar links can place you at risk for malware or identity theft.  

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