That “free” movie you saw online or were sent by a friend may actually be filled with harmful software that infects your computer.

Who Is It Targeting: Tech users

What Is It: Piracy that results in infecting your computer

What Are They After: Hopefully, everyone knows that downloading a free top-name movie is illegal, and that piracy is really stealing. But rather than file this under “you get what you deserve,” it’s important to talk about scams involving free movies. The Federal Trade Commission has issued a warning about malware downloads masquerading inside stolen movies; they tested five movies on five different piracy websites, and all five installed malware on their computers.

The real threat is in users who don’t know that a website is pirating films. After all, there are so many legitimate services where users can watch movies and TV shows, read ebooks, and listen to music. Some users, especially younger users, may not understand that Mom and Dad’s Netflix account that provides access to free content (because they’re actually paying for it) isn’t the same thing as stealing movies on a shady website.

How Can You Avoid It:

  • Don’t pirate content: it isn’t worth the risk, it is a crime, and it does steal from people who are working for a living.
  • Only get content from legitimate sites that you subscribe to.
  • Talk to your family members about legal and illegal sources of content, and how they can actually hurt you.

If you think you may be a victim of identity theft, contact the Identity Theft Resource Center for toll-free, no-cost assistance at (888) 400-5530. Find more information about current scams and alerts here. For full details of this scam check out this article from Federal Trade Commission.