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Susan Tompor: Roku setup, activation scam doesn't include cold calls, bogus links: What to know

Susan Tompor, Detroit Free Press on

Published in Home and Consumer News

Last May, the BBB reported that consumers in 25 states alleged that a tech company charged unnecessary fees to activate Roku Devices.

"Customers stated that they were subsequently charged an unnecessary activation fee ranging from $79.99 to $249.99 and were led to believe that this fee was required to enable their Roku device," according to the BBB. It wasn't.

The alert said that consumers attempting to activate their Roku streaming devices and Roku enabled smart televisions saw an error message and then were directed to call a company called CaliGeeks Inc.

Elsewhere, consumers reported that they were scammed after they went online to register their Roku device.

Somehow, they clicked on a website that wasn't connected to Roku. After receiving an activation code, the consumer was alerted to call a number due to some error.

Instead of clicking on the legit Roku website, they clicked on a website not affiliated with Roku that offered to help set up the device. When they put the activation code in, they got a notice of an error with a number to call. Then, the consumer was asked to pay an activation fee, even though Roku doesn't charge any such fee.

A Roku spokeswoman did not answer specific questions about the scam, but offered this statement via email: "At Roku we work hard to make device set up simple and easy. We recently transitioned to email activation enabling consumers to talk to us directly and to get their device connected and streaming in just minutes."

Roku does not charge for account activation and device set up, the company said, and only Roku is authorized to help Roku customers.

"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," according to the Roku spokeswoman.

“We’re incredibly sorry to hear about our customers having experiences with customer support imposters and we’ve reached out to this customer to better understand their experience and see how we can help.”

The Roku website lists very specific information about such scams and this warning: "Roku does not require an activation fee, registration fee, or charge for support of any kind."

Some tips from the Roku site:

 

—If a website reports that your activation code failed, do not call their "support phone number" for help. They are only looking to charge your credit card for activation which is not necessary.

—Do not pay for a monthly or annual subscription with the promise of help with wireless network issues, remote control problems, or other technical issues. You will likely never get to use your subscription as most scammers pack up and close shop before you get the assistance you need.

—Watch out for scammers who try to take control of your Roku device. Beware of scammers who try and activate your Roku device using their own Roku account. If successful, they can disable your Roku device at any time and demand credit card payment for reactivation. Always activate your Roku device yourself using your own valid email address and a strong, secure password.

If you end up getting caught by one of these scams, the BBB recommends:

—File a complaint with your credit card company and ask to have any associated charges reversed.

—Check your bank and credit card statements for any signs of fraudulent activity.

—Remove any software that this company may have installed on your computer, and change any passwords for programs used on your computer that was accessed by this company.

—Change the password on your Roku.com account.

—Visit the Federal Trade Commission website and file a complaint about the experience. See FTC.gov.

If you believe that you have interacted with a fraudulent site, email Roku Customer Advocate at customer.advocate@roku.com to detail what happened.

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©2021 Detroit Free Press. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.