- Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation
Football season is officially back, and fans are looking to stream their favorite teams or check other games to keep track of their fantasy league. To stay on top of the competition and games that may be out of our service area consumers are faced with expensive add-ons to their current cable or streaming packages. This leads many consumers to scour the internet for free streaming sites to catch the games. While these sites do not charge a monetary payment, they can cost you much more than a monthly subscription fee.
Research shows that the majority of free sports sites contain various forms of malicious content, spanning from malware and phishing scams to software engineering scams. OpenText Security Solutions assessed that 40% of free sports or television streaming websites lack a security certificate, and about 90% were considered risky.
A quick Google Search of “NFL free stream” uncovers over seven billion results!
The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation wants consumers looking to skip paying extra fees by watching football games on free streaming sports sites to know the risk potential of an unsecured site. Here are some tips to keep in mind the next time you are trying to catch an out-of-network game to be safe while streaming:
Confirm the URL. Secure websites usually start with “HTTPS//” not “HTTP//”. This is an indication that the site is encrypted. Keep in mind that the presence of the “s” does not always mean that the site is safe, but its absence is a clear indication that the page should be avoided.
Beware of websites that bombard you with advertisements, pop-ups, and links to external websites. Crowded webpages may indicate an unsafe streaming service.
Deny requests from unfamiliar sites to install an extension or program to your device to access content. The installed software often leads to phishing redirects or malware.
Carefully review social media accounts offering free access to streaming sites. Scammers have frequently published false links on social media platforms, with most of these posts finding a home on Twitter. Twitter accounts predominantly made up of streaming links are illegitimate.
Football is one of America’s greatest past times and an easy target for scammers to take advantage of viewers. So, always do diligent research on a website before entering any personal information or submitting payment for a streaming service. If you do provide payment details, use a credit card instead in case you need to file a dispute.
If you believe you are a victim of, or uncovered, a streaming scam, report it to the Federal Trade Commission at https://reportfraud.ftc.gov or by calling 202-326-222.