The Desk appreciates the support of readers who purchase products or services through links on our website. Learn more...

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.

Photo of author

About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).