Scamwatch: how fraudsters can use your smart TV to steal your cash

Jess Bown
Scamwatch: connected homes at risk of fraud
Scamwatch: connected homes at risk of fraud

Stay one step ahead of the fraudsters with our series of articles giving you the lowdown on the scams they use to trick people out of their hard-earned cash - and how to avoid being taken in by them.

This week, we explain how criminals can steal your data via connected devices such as your smart TV.

See also: Watch out for this new WhatsApp shopping scam

See also: Bank transfer scam victims could find it easier to get money back under plans

How does it work?

The use of connected devices such as smart TVs and voice-activated home assistants by criminals seeking to steal data poses an emerging threat to UK consumers, according to National Trading Standards.

The organisation is therefore warning consumers about potential threats such as computer viruses, malware and data hacking.

Its findings support consumer group Which?'s recent investigation into smart home gadgets, which revealed that crooks can hack into your home network and connected appliances in just four days.

Mike Andrews of National Trading Standards said: "People often seem to think they are completely safe but there is just as much risk associated with using a smart TV as there is with using any computer connected to the internet, especially when it comes to entering your personal data.

"As criminals increasingly find new methods to target consumers, steps will need to be taken to help protect people in their homes."

How can I avoid being caught out?

It is vital to change the password on your connected devices, as generic default passwords can be easy for hackers to guess.

So set a strong and unique password, ideally one with a jumbled mix of letters, numbers and special characters.

"Some connected devices come with default passwords," Andrews said. "You should always change these passwords and look wherever possible to limit the amount of information you are sharing."

Other top tips include keeping the software or firmware updated to ensure the latest security features are installed, and ensuring all your smart devices are connected to a secure wi-fi network.

It's also worth remembering that smart devices located close to windows or behind thin doors can be more easily accessed from outside your home.

I've been defrauded. What should I do?

You can report scams of any kind to the police via Action Fraud on 0300 123 2040.

For further help and free advice, you can also contact Citizens Advice.

National Trading Standards chairman Lord Toby Harris said: "People can report anything suspicious to the Citizens Advice consumer helpline on 03454 04 05 06."