It’s an unfortunate fact of life that sometimes people are awful and take advantage of unsuspecting victims. So it’s important to keep in mind that Microsoft will never call you about your computer, that FedEx text message may be a lie, and now Roku won’t charge you to activate service.
This latest scam story comes to us courtesy of the Detroit Free Press, and it’s a doozy. Maureen McDonald found herself fleeced for $150 after paying for “lifetime customer support service” from Roku. The kicker? It wasn’t even a cold call.
McDonald set up a new Roku device in a bid to ride out the isolating pandemic when her TV flashed a “call this number for help” message. It’s unclear how the scammers pulled that off but considering it seemed to originate from her Roku, she trusted the prompt and called the number.
The scammers were helpful in setting up her device, which isn’t surprising. Good customer service can help sell a lie, after all. And then offered her a “lifetime support plan” for $150. She paid, and a few months later, they called back, insisting on further payments. If she didn’t pay, “Roku would deactivate her service.” That’s when she realized the whole thing was a scam.
And unfortunately, it’s a growing problem. Roku now has warnings on its site that state:
- There is NEVER a charge to create a Roku account.
- Roku does NOT charge for device activation.
And in a statement to the Detroit Free Press, a Roku Spokesperson explained:
We’ve taken several efforts to combat customer support imposters, including messaging more to our customers across packaging, the Quick Start Guide in the box, on-device screens and on our website — and we are working with government authorities to put these fraud operations out of business.
Roku is hardly alone in battling scammers posing as company representatives. But it’s concerning that the scam is taking off, especially as more people buy new streaming devices. So if you’re reading this, tell your friends and family: Roku never charges for new accounts, activations, or “lifetime support.” It’s a company that makes it money through advertising your watching habits. Adding on “activation fees” would only get in the way of that goal.