Updated November 1st, 2022.
When activating Prime Video on a TV, be careful how you do it!
Recently I was helping someone set up Prime Video on her Apple TV. Anyone who’s done it before knows the drill: you click Prime Video on your TV screen, you click “Sign in,” and you see a screen with instructions:
- Go to amazon.com/mytv
- Sign in or create an account (they mean “an Amazon Prime account”– and you are probably already signed in)
- Enter the following code:
The code is there in big letters and numbers, something like this:
So, you grab your Mac, or your iPhone, or your iPad, and you go to amazon.com/mytv, and you enter the code. It’s way easier than trying to sign into your Amazon Prime account on your TV because those devices have keyboards, and the Apple TV doesn’t.
It’s supposed to look like this:
When you put in the code and tap “Register Device” the image on the TV changes, telling you you’re all signed in, and that’s all there is to it. Easy.
Unless you make a typo. Which we did.
In Safari, on the iPhone, instead of typing “amazon.com/mytv” we typed “amazon.co.m/mytv” and we didn’t end up at an Amazon page at all. That’s because we didn’t really type in a URL– there is no “.m” domain. So Safari performed a Google search instead. And, because we weren’t wearing our glasses, we didn’t notice that the first item from the search results was NOT an Amazon site.
And then we tapped on it, and went to a page that looked something like the real Amazon page, but wasn’t. It did look a little funny so we were a little suspicious.
We put in the code, and it looked like it worked.
But we still had to “Click to continue…” and when we did, we saw that we were to confirm by phone.
So we tapped that blue button with the 860 phone number. Oddly it showed a different number was about to be dialed.
We didn’t notice that the phone number we called wasn’t the same as the one we tapped (I figure that out while researching this blog post). So we called. And the person on the other end of the line asked us how many TVs we had, and we told him “a bunch,” and he said “Well you have to pay extra for when you have more than two TVs.” That was news to me, and a bit of a red flag.
The “support” person told us it would be $129 for three years, or $300 for lifetime access to Prime Video. This was starting to sound weird but we didn’t hang up yet.
We should have.
So then the support person asked for an email address so he could send an invoice. Now this sounded REALLY weird. Since when does Amazon send invoices? And… this one came by PayPal!
Now we knew something fishy was going on. Amazon does not need to resort to PayPal to get their money. They have the biggest and smoothest shopping cart set-up around, and they already know our credit cards. They could easily charge us (and we were already on the Amazon site, right?)
This PayPal invoice was the last straw for us– all of a sudden we realized we weren’t talking to Amazon, so rather than hand money over to a stranger we hung up the phone and started over.
This time we didn’t make a typo, and everything went super-smooth, and we didn’t have to pay anything extra (of course not, that’s not how Prime works).
If you’re thinking, “Wait a minute– these guys had to create a fake Amazon website, and then pay to get their website to be the top one in a Google search, and then hope someone made a simple typo– they had to do all of this on purpose!”– the answer is yes, they did it on purpose. They set a trap and just waited for someone to step in it. Incredible rottenness.
The moral of the story? Well there are a few.
First, the internet is full of wolves. You have to be careful. ESPECIALLY in Google searches. People can and do pay to have their crooked websites be top of Google’s search results list. We didn’t pay attention to the tiny “Ad” label in the Google search results.
Second, if something seems weird, just bail out. Don’t go down rabbit holes, giving your information to strangers.
Third, wear your glasses.
While writing this blog post I tried calling the phone numbers associated with the phony non-Amazon site. The number with the 860 area code was out of service. I’m betting that, when they shut down that number, they updated the link so it dialed the 888 number, but they were too lazy to take a new screenshot and update their crooked website. When I called the 888 number it was out of service also. That’s good, but scammers like this don’t give up easily. They’ll make another site and try to trip up someone else. Don’t let it be you!Copyright 2008-2023 Christian Boyce. All rights reserved.