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

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."

Victims of scams and fraud
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Victims of scams and fraud
Susan Tollefsen, Britain's oldest first time mother, was scammed out of £160,000 by a fraudster she met on an online dating site. A man claiming to be an Italian gold and diamond dealer told her he was in the middle of a land deal but couldn't access cash. Tollefsen felt sorry for him and started wiring him money, eventually selling her jewellery, her flat and borrowing £32,000 from friends to give him. Read the full story here.
In March 2015 an American woman who was only identified as 'Sarah' went on the popular US television programme the Dr Phil Show to reveal she had sent $1.4 million to a man that she had never met. Although she was certain she wasn't being scammed, her cousin made her go on the programme because she was convinced it was a scam. Find out more about the story here.
Maggie Surridge employed Lee Slocombe to lay a £350 deck in her garden in March 2015. However Slocombe used a combination of lies to scam Surridge out of thousands of pounds. He told Surridge that the front and back walls were dangerous and needed rebuilding and also conned her into building a porch, all for the cost of £8,500. Read the full story here.
It's not just individuals who can be the victims of scams, big corporations can also fall foul of these fraudulent practices. In 2015 Claire Dunleavy repeatedly used a 7p 'reduced' sticker to get significant amounts of money off her shopping at an Asda store in Burslem, ending up with her paying just £15.66 for a shop that should have cost £69.02. Read the full story here.
Sylvia Kneller, 76, was conned out of £200,000 over the space of 56 years thanks to scam mail. The pensioner became addicted to responding to the fraudsters, convinced that she would one day win a fortune. Ms Kneller would receive letters claiming she had won large sums of money but she needed to send processing fees to claim her prize. Learn about the full story here
Leslie Jubb, 103, became Britain's oldest scam victim in August last year when he was conned out of £60,000 after being sent an endless stream of catalogues promising prizes in return for purchasing overpriced goods. The extent of this con was discovered when Mr Jubb temporarily moved into a care home and his family discovered what he had lost. Find out more about this story here
Stephen Cox won more than £100,000 on the National Lottery in 2003 but has been left with nothing after falling victim to two conmen. The 63-year-old was pressured into handing over £60,000 to the men who told him his roof needed fixing. They walked him into banks and building societies persuading him to part with £80,000 of cash while doing no work in return. See the full story here
Last year the Metropolitan Police released CCTV footage of a woman who had £250 stolen at a cash machine in Dagenham. The scam involved two men distracting the woman at the machine, pressing the button for £250 then taking the money and running away. Read about the full story here.
Rebecca Ferguson shot to fame as a runner up on the X-Factor in 2010 but fell victim to a scam artist last year when someone she had believed to be a friend conned her out of £43,000. Rachel Taylor befriended the singer in 2012 and claimed to be a qualified accountant, so Ferguson allowed her to look after her finances. Instead of doing this Taylor stole £43,000 from the Liverpudlian singer. Read more here
When Rebecca Lewis discovered her fiance had started a relationship with a woman he met online she packed her bags to leave. But that didn't stop her checking out the mystery woman, Rebecca quickly realised Paul Rusher's new love was actually part of a romance scam. She told Paul just before he sent the scammers £2,000 which was supposed to bring his new girlfriend to England. Find the full story here.

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