Monmouthshire’s trading standards officers are warning consumers that illegally-adapted TV set-top boxes infected with malware allow scammers to steal personal details to commit fraud.  The malware is innocently disguised as a play button or similar and when unknowingly initiated by the user it potentially impacts on other electronic devices.  Users will normally use personal details when setting up the set-top box which could be used to defraud them.

This fraudulent trend runs hand in hand with the sale of set-top boxes adapted by criminals to unlawfully receive TV channels protected by copyright laws, so viewers can access illegal content.

Councillor Sara Jones, cabinet member with responsibility for public protection said: “Safeguarding the public from illegal streaming services via set-top boxes is vital to the UK economy, our creative industries and the many people employed in them.  We are also aware that some imported set-top boxes are spiked with malware to give criminals access to your personal details.  Consequently, what may appear to be a bargain can quickly turn into a nightmare caused by loss of personal data and loss of your hard-earned cash.”

Monmouthshire’s Trading Standards Team Leader, Gareth Walters advised residents to purchase set-top and streaming boxes from recognised outlets only and contact their bank if they suspect dubious transactions have been made.  He added: “When signing up to websites or internet services, use a password or PIN you have not used elsewhere.  It’s also very important to use Two Factor Authentication – extra layers of security requiring a password, username and unique information – when accessing important accounts.”

For further advice or to report any illegal activity to Trading Standards call 03454 04 05 06.