As IPTV’s popularity soars in the UK, driven by the appeal of low-cost premium TV and sports content, a startling revelation has emerged from a new report published this week: your debit and credit cards may be at risk, when you subscribe to these seemingly attractive services.
The report, titled “Giving Piracy Operators Credit,” uncovers a significant risk of credit card fraud linked to illegal piracy streaming services, many of which fall under the umbrella of IPTV.
Shortly after signing up for some IPTV services, the investigators saw unauthorised charges from a women’s apparel store in China, a crypto platform in Lithuania and more – on their credit cards.
For Brits who have embraced IPTV, this report is a wake-up call to the potential dangers hidden within the convenience of streaming (see below on how to identify illegal streaming services).
The Allure Of IPTV In The UK
Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) is a digital media service that streams television channels over the internet, bypassing traditional broadcast methods such as satellite or cable TV.
In other words – it’s what we all know as streaming TV.
IPTV services can be legal or illegal, depending on how they acquire and distribute their content.
Legal IPTV services, like Netflix, Amazon’s Prime Video and Disney+, operate under proper licensing agreements with content providers.
They pay for the rights to stream TV shows, movies, and other content, and they pass these costs onto their customers through subscription fees.
These services are completely legal to use, and they invest heavily in securing their platforms and protecting their customers’ data.
On the other hand, illegal IPTV services operate without these licensing agreements. They often stream content that they do not have the rights to, including premium pay-TV channels and live sports events.
These services are typically much cheaper than their legal counterparts, as they do not bear the costs of licensing content.
IPTV has become increasingly popular in the UK due to its ability to provide a vast array of content at a fraction of the cost of traditional pay-TV services like Sky.
IPTV services promise users access to a multitude of channels, including premium ones, often for a single, low-cost monthly subscription.
This makes it a tempting alternative for viewers who are looking to cut costs without sacrificing their favourite programming – with many people not realizing they’re paying for something that’s illegal.
Moreover, the allure of IPTV is particularly strong for sports fans. The relatively high cost of sports packages on traditional platforms has led many fans, particularly those of the Premier League, to turn to IPTV for their fix.
These services often provide access to live streams of games that would otherwise require a costly subscription.
However, in addition to being against the law – using these services can be risky.
The Hidden Dangers Of IPTV
The Digital Citizens Alliance’s investigation, published this week, has exposed the potential financial risks associated with these services.
The report details how an investigator’s credit card was targeted for $1,495 (£1,175) in illicit purchases within weeks of signing up for 20 different piracy subscription services, including IPTV providers.
These unauthorised charges originated from various countries, including China, Singapore, Hong Kong, and Lithuania.
For example, 11 days after signing up for the first piracy streaming service, two charges of $17.21 each occurred listed as “GB Pay affectioni” a women’s apparel store in Qingdao City, China.
A day later, a cash advance of $14.99 was made using the Wollito crypto platform, originating in Vilnius, Lithuania.
Over the following months, charges for clothing, groceries, and large mystery charges appeared, all without the cardholder’s knowledge or consent.
While the report does not specifically mention the UK, the risks it outlines are universal. UK viewers using IPTV services, especially those that operate in a legal grey area, are just as susceptible to these risks.
The report’s findings are particularly relevant given the popularity of IPTV in the UK for accessing local channels and football matches.
In the last couple of months alone, we reported about two illegal IPTV busts in the UK – one of a man from Liverpool who made £237,000 by selling subscriptions to his illegal streaming service, and another about a £7 million illegal Premier League streaming ring.
If a UK viewer were to sign up for a similar service, they could potentially see unauthorised charges from international vendors appearing on their credit card statements.
IPTV, Identity Theft, And Malware Risks
The DCA’s investigation goes beyond just the immediate financial risks associated with these services.
It also included a survey of 2,330 Americans, which found that those who used a credit card to sign up for a piracy service reported a significantly higher incidence of credit card fraud.
A staggering 72% of these respondents reported having an issue with credit card fraud over the last year. This is a stark contrast to the 18% of respondents who reported similar issues but did not visit piracy sites.
The survey also revealed a strong correlation between visiting piracy sites and becoming a victim of identity theft. Americans who visited piracy sites and apps were four times more likely to report being a victim of identity theft.
This is a significant finding, as identity theft can have long-lasting and damaging effects on an individual’s financial health and credit score.
Moreover, the survey found that those who visited piracy sites were five times more likely to report having an issue with malware in the last year.
Malware can cause serious damage to a user’s device and can lead to further security breaches, such as the theft of personal data.
These findings paint a worrying picture of the potential risks associated with using IPTV services that may not be entirely above board.
If similar trends hold true in the UK, a significant portion of IPTV users could be exposing themselves to financial fraud, identity theft, and malware.
Spotting Illegal IPTV Services: A Guide
In an era where legitimate streaming services are flourishing, it’s crucial to know how to distinguish the illegal ones that lurk in the shadows – and may also pose risks to your debit and credit cards.
Here are some tell-tale signs to look out for:
Cost: Illegal IPTV services often lure customers with significantly lower subscription prices than their legal counterparts. If the cost seems suspiciously low compared to known, legal streaming services, it’s likely the service is operating outside the law.
Content Offering: Illicit services may promise access to premium channels, pay-per-view events, or newly-released films without any additional charges. Legitimate services usually require extra payment for such premium content or have specific licensing agreements with content providers.
Website Quality and Branding: Poorly designed websites with limited information, spelling mistakes, and low-resolution images can be a sign of an illegal IPTV provider. They may also lack proper branding or misuse logos from well-known broadcasters without authorisation.
Payment Methods: Unlawful IPTV services often prefer untraceable or unconventional payment methods, such as cryptocurrencies or gift cards, to evade detection by law enforcement. But as we can see – they often take regular cards as well.
Absence of Clear Terms and Conditions: A legitimate IPTV service will have comprehensive terms and conditions outlining their service usage. Illegal providers often lack such documentation, or they provide vague and unprofessional terms.
Customer Support: Illicit IPTV providers may offer limited or non-existent customer support, making it challenging for users to get help or lodge complaints.
Online Presence and Reviews: Conduct some research and look for online reviews or forum discussions about the IPTV service you’re considering. Legitimate services usually have a more robust online presence and positive feedback from users.
Remember, if an offer appears too good to be true (like a bundle of expensive streaming services offered at a suspiciously low bargain price, or high-cost sports subscriptions suddenly available for a fraction of the price), it probably is too good to be true.
For UK viewers, the message is clear: while IPTV services may seem like a cost-effective way to access your favourite shows and sports, they also carry significant risks.
It’s crucial to ensure that any IPTV service you use is legal and reputable to protect yourself from the potential financial and security dangers.