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Every week, join Whitney Quick as she helps you navigate life as a smart consumer. You'll cover everything in avoiding the latest scams, including phishing emails, medical equipment fraud, understanding layaway, hiring a reputable tax preparer, and even digital spring cleaning. Add to your toolbox and flip through your Consumer Handbook Thursdays during NPR’s Morning Edition at 6:42 a.m. and 8:42 a.m., only on KRCU.

Consumer Handbook: Want to watch the local high school game? Be aware of sports streaming scams

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It used to be that you had to go to the stadium to root on your local high school athletic team. However, the COVID-19 pandemic changed that. With schools forced to restrict entry to events, they turned to online streaming of games so that people could watch from the comfort of their living rooms.

While many attendance restrictions have been lifted, schools are still streaming games. Unfortunately, the scammers have followed. The scammers’ goal is to capture personal information, including credit card and Social Security numbers, as fans log in to watch their team play.

Here’s how this scam works. You want to watch the local high school's football game, or your niece's travel softball team is playing in a tournament out of state. You search on social media to find a link where the game might be streamed, and sure enough, a fan has put in a link where you can go to watch for free! It's almost time for the game to start, so you eagerly click the link. The next screen asks you to sign up for the streaming service, so you enter your name and email... and then you get asked for a credit card number and potentially more sensitive information.

These scammers infiltrate social media with links to fake streams. The posts often will tag the schools which are involved in order to make the post appear legitimate. The scammers hope the would-be viewer inputs their information and pays to watch the event. The consumer doesn’t get to watch the game because the scammer has not set up a stream. Instead, whatever data they entered may be compromised.

Research any website before paying any money or entering any information. Be cautious before clicking through to links included in social media posts, unsolicited text messages, or emails. Clicking on unfamiliar links can place you at risk for malware or identity theft.

Cape Girardeau native Whitney Quick is the Regional Director of Better Business Bureau in Cape Girardeau, MO, and is responsible for outreach efforts in Southeast Missouri and Southern Illinois. Quick is a graduate of Cape Girardeau Central High School and Southeast Missouri University where she majored in public relations. Quick enjoys helping educate consumers in the southeast Missouri region by sharing consumer tips with groups and educating them about BBB’s resources.