Roku tackles activation scammers with new email confirmation system

(Image: Roku, Inc. / Graphic: The Desk)

Roku is responding to a growing trend of customers falling victim to activation scams by changing the way new hardware is linked to a customer’s account.

For years, customers have been told to activate their Roku gear when they first turn it on. A message displayed on a TV screen told customers to visit a Roku-sanctioned website and enter an activation code.

But many customers simply Googled “Roku activation” or mistyped the activation website, which exposed them to scam websites that fraudulently claimed customers had to pay an activation fee to get their device going.

Roku responded by placing a note at the bottom of the welcome screen explicitly telling customers they don’t charge for activation, but that wasn’t enough to curb the efforts of scammers.

Now Roku is changing how new hardware is activated entirely: Instead of showing a code and asking a customer to visit a website, Roku now asks customers for an email address. Roku then sends an email with an activation link, which forwards to the official Roku website.

The change was first spotted by the industry blog Cord Cutters News this weekend. which said the move made it “impossible” for scammers to help customers set up their Roku gear.

“The only way to do it now is by using the link that is emailed to you — no codes needed,” the blog said.

Thanks for reading and supporting The Desk. If you have a question, comment or news tip, send a message by email or text, or connect on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Also, check out our new membership service The Desk: Pro Access for exclusive reporting, news scoops and in-depth analysis.