There are more than a few ploys criminals and hackers use to trick us into sharing valuable, personal information on the Internet. One is that pirates pretend to offer free or unreasonably cheap access to entertainment content.

The cybersecurity firm Kaspersky explains how scammers utilized the popular HBO series Game of Thrones (GOT) to try to snag personal information. But GOT is certainly not the only bait.

These kinds of schemes might play out like this:

  1. A seemingly reputable website offers a free or cheap stream of a desirable show. The website looks professional and may even run legitimate advertisements.
  2. You watch a short bit of a show before the stream stops and you’re directed to create a free account. The account requires a verifiable email address and password.
  3. You’re then asked for credit card and billing information. The website assures that the card will not be charged but the information is necessary to validate that you can legally receive the content where you live.
  4. Despite following all directions, you receive no additional content.

You’ve Been Had

You may become suspicious and stop what you’re doing when a website asks for credit card information. But even if you stop there, you may have already shared an email address and provided a password.

Even this small bit of personal detail is valuable information to an Internet thief, particularly if you’re one of those people who use the same password for all online accounts. 

Protect Yourself

The best way to avoid such a scam is to keep in mind that premium shows, films and sporting events are not free. And if someone is offering them online for little or no cost, it’s too good to be true.

You should also use a variety of strong passwords and make sure your anti-virus software is up to date – although no software offers complete protection against these kinds of scams.

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