Don't Let Someone Hack Your Netflix Account: Here's How to Protect Yourself
Does something seem off with your Continue Watching row or your active profiles? Follow these steps.
Kourtnee covers TV streaming services and home entertainment news and reviews at CNET. She previously worked as an entertainment reporter at Showbiz Cheat Sheet where she wrote about film, television, music, celebrities, and streaming platforms.
ExpertiseKourtnee is a longtime cord-cutter who's subscribed to streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Disney Plus, HBO Max, Crunchyroll, Sling, Spotify and more. As a real-life user of these services, she tracks the latest developments in streaming, the newest reCredentials
Though Kourtnee hasn't won any journalism awards yet, she's been a Netflix streaming subscriber since 2012 and knows the magic of its hidden codes.
Alina Bradford has been writing how-tos, tech articles and more for almost two decades. She currently writes for CNET's Smart Home Section, MTVNews' tech section and for Live Science's reference section. Follow her on Twitter.
Netflix continues to add new features, changes to its subscription options and fresh content to keep customers satisfied. As a Netflix fan, you may be totally cool with paying extra fees to share your password with friends and family. Some of you may safeguard your watchlists and appreciate the streaming service's recommendation engine to ensure you watch the titles you like. And it doesn't hurt that there's a $7 ad-supported plan now either.
Whatever the case, you probably don't take your Netflix account -- or who has access to it -- for granted. But, up against your best efforts to protect your passwords, freeloaders can find illegal ways to snatch your login credentials and stream without your consent. If you believe your account is hacked and someone is watching all the latest Netflix releases, it can get under your skin. Here's what to look out for and what to do if you find yourself locked out or hacked.
Most of us pay attention to the look of our Netflix home screen and the profiles that sit on one account. Up to five are allowed, but if you only have one or two and additional ones pop up, that's your first clue that someone has infiltrated your account. In some cases, profiles may have been deleted or altered.
Check with your crew of account sharers to see if anyone added or removed a new profile before you get alarmed. If no one in your inner circle (or their outer circle) is responsible for the new profile, delete it and set up a new password.
To delete a profile, you'll need to access Netflix on a web browser. Click on your profile icon and tap Manage Profiles. Select the rogue profiles and click Delete.
Next, check the watch history on your profiles. Is there a new TV show in your Continue Watching row? What about a set of new genres in your recommendations section? If you notice a fresh "Because You Watched" suggestion for a movie or series you never watched, there may have been a takeover. Again, ask around your circle first to make sure your mom or son didn't accidentally binge watch all those K-dramas or baking shows on your profile.
Do some sleuthing
Netflix sends out an email alert when it recognizes a "new" device that signed in to your account. Typically, the company will provide information on the type of device and the location and date of sign-in. However, Netflix doesn't do this every time someone logs in, so it's up to you to periodically check this information. And in light of the password-sharing crackdown, be sure to set your main home as the primary viewing household on your account.
Log in on a web browser and navigate to your Account page. Click Manage Access and Devices under Security & Privacy to view where, when and how people have been streaming from your Netflix account. I once discovered that some stranger in Sao Paulo, Brazil, was enjoying the service on my dime (with a Fire TV Stick), which prompted me to immediately change my password. If you discover similar patterns on your account, it's time for a password update. We have some great tips for creating and protecting solid passwords.
Before you do that, head back to Security & Privacy and sign out of all devices to ensure that once you change your password, everyone has to log in from scratch. Don't forget this step if you've been traveling and using Netflix at a hotel or vacation rental.
Netflix won't allow you to alter or delete the account activity information, so at least you can take a snapshot of the IP address, device and location to document whether it keeps happening.
Review your billing statement
It's likely you have Netflix on auto-renewal and therefore don't check the billing amount each month. It's time to take a peek at it to see whether you still have your chosen subscription plan. Follow this advice even if you learned your account was hacked and you canceled Netflix, because someone may still be streaming while you're being charged for it. Double check the cancellation and billing status.
For active users, if you know you've been paying for Standard -- which is now $15.50 per month -- and you've been getting charged $20 for the last three months, there's a chance someone upgraded you to Premium without your knowledge.
In this case, contact Netflix about the discrepancy and inform them that you've likely been hacked. The onus is still on you to change your password and email address.
It's imperative you change your password ASAP, before the trickster tries to log back in. Make sure your password is good, too. "123456" isn't going to cut it. Follow up by checking the rest of your credentials.
It's a good idea to check whether your email address has been compromised by visiting Have I Been Pwned. Type in your email or phone number and prepare to see if your information has been shared on the dark web. Receive some bad news about a breach here? Me too. A security breach is when your email, password, account name, credit card information or any other data stored on a website is illegally accessed by hackers and released to the public. Swap out your Netflix email address for one that hasn't shown up in the grimy digital underworld.
Note that when you change your email on your Netflix account page, you'll be prompted to have a code emailed to you to confirm your identity. Complete those steps to switch to your updated email address. However, if the account's email address now belongs to the hacker, you'll have to contact Netflix's customer service team to report it, or, as a last resort, cancel the account and start a new one.
Remind friends and family who live outside your household that you can transfer their existing Netflix profiles to a new account. Otherwise, these tips may put an end to their freeloading ways, too -- if you choose to avoid the password crackdown.
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