I got a text message on my Android phone from an unknown number saying that my Netflix account was suspended because of a billing problem. When I check my Netflix account on my TV, however, it indicates that all is fine with my billing. Is this text message legit?
While Netflix does send text messages to subscribers on occasion, odds are far more likely that you received is what’s known as a phishing scam, an attempt for you to enter your login credentials so someone else can hijack your account. If you do receive a message of this nature, whether via email, text message, or even a phone call or voicemail, simply go to netflix.com by typing in the URL into your browser, then going to your account to check if there’s an actual problem or not. If there’s nothing shown, you’re clear. If there is a problem, you can resolve it while being confident that you’re on the legit site.
But not everyone is sufficiently skeptical to avoid being taken in by some of these scam email messages and text messages, so there are now tools built into Android [and iOS] to help you stay safe. The biggest is to report suspicious messages as being spam, which helps out others, but there are other steps syou can take too. Let’s have a look!
IS THIS TEXT MESSAGE REALLY FROM NETFLIX?
When I picked up my Google Pixel 6a this morning, there was a text message I hadn’t yet read begging for my attention:
It’s already suspicious with that sender ID: “custship-mmbrsg-804904-ma…” but you can be forgiven for being curious and tapping on it to learn more:
A close read will reveal some grammatical errors, but most of all notice that the URL listed is not a Netflix Web site address. A legit message would include a Netflix address which will always end with “.netflix.com”. This points to swipepages.net which sure doesn’t sound legit, does it?
Notice on the top that Android offers you the chance to add the sender to your Contacts with “Add contact” or “Report spam”. In a moment you’ll see that it automatically identifies it as spam, but for now, to assuage your inevitable curiosity, I’ll tap on that URL to see what’s there…
PHISHING SPAM LANDING PAGE
More often than not, you’ll end up on a page that’s already been taken down, as it happens:
Sometimes this occurs because the spammers incorrectly constructed their URL, but more often it’s because the hosting site has received reports about the spam or phishing scam and has canceled that account and deleted the page. In this instance, it’s a bit of a reprieve, but what if I’d ended up seeing something like this?
Turns out that it’s easy to duplicate a Web page so even seeing the Netflix phone number on the bottom doesn’t guarantee legitimacy. The key is the URL itself, but even smarter is to simply enter the netflix.com address directly if you ever get a message, email, voicemail, etc, to check you account. Don’t trust links that you’re sent!
BACK TO THE TEXT MESSAGE
Interestingly, when I go back to the text message in Messages, it’s actually already marked it as spam! Notice the very top of the below screen and how it changed since the last time I shared it:
In fact, there’s nothing to do at this point. My Android phone has learned this sender is bogus and that messages from this number are spam. Well, there’s one thing left to do. Tap on the vertical “•••” link on the top right to bring up the messages menu:
Then tap on “Delete” to get it out of your Messages area to make double sure that you don’t accidentally read it and possibly tap on its link again.
A tap on “Delete” and you can go on with your day, knowing that you’re safe from this rather sloppy phishing attack. The next one, however, might be more sophisticated, so better to learn caution and skepticism than rely on them not being very well done. Netflix has more info on possible spam and scams to read too. Stay safe out there!
Pro Tip: I’ve been writing about online scams for many years. Please check out my spam, scams and security help area while you’re visiting. Thanks!