COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)
Sports fans can watch just about any Friday night football game from the comfort of their own homes thanks to streaming platforms, but they should make sure to check a site's legitimacy first.
The Better Business Bureau is warning high school sports fans of streaming scams.
A news release said scammers post links on social media to fake streaming sites. It then asks viewers for personal information, such as credit card or Social Security numbers to watch the event. The viewer's personal data is then taken, and no stream appears.
MSHSAA streams many high school sporting events on mshsaa.tv, and digital media coordinator Jennifer Bethmann said this is something the organization has been battling for years.
"As soon as we started streaming, we started seeing scams," Bethmann said.
Bethmann said the scams usually appear as Facebook posts, or show up in search engine results.
"You might see a post that says, 'Hey, we're streaming this Rock Bridge game or this Hickman game,' when in reality, it's a scam," Bethmann said.
She said scammers often steal logos and images from MSHSAA to make the con seem more official.
"We've seen that at our state basketball championships, where we might put out a score graphic and then all of a sudden there's a comment from 'Missouri State High School Activity Association,' 'Watch the game here,'" Bethmann said. "So, we have to go through and make sure that we are taking those down."
To avoid falling victim, Bethmann said to only click links that come directly from MSHSAA or the high school's official website and social media.
"It's important for fans and spectators to not use a Google search engine to try to find a game, but go to that school's specific website, go to that school's specific social media channels, whether it's Facebook or Twitter, to try to find that direct link instead of searching for it and just clicking on something that pops up because it had those words that you were looking for," Bethmann said.
Columbia Public Schools Athletic Director David Egan told ABC 17 News the district's regular season contests are streamed on local media -- including abc17news.com -- and to the respective high school's YouTube channel. All postseason play is streamed on mshsaa.tv.
Bethmann said red flags that a site is a scam include if the stream is free, but it says the viewer has to pay for a subscription, or if a site asks for a physical home address. She said mshsaa.tv is pay-per-view and will not require a subscription, and no digital streaming service is going to need a physical address.
The BBB also recommends people research a website's credibility before paying any money or entering any personal information. Also, check a site's security settings by seeing if the web address starts with "https://".
People should be cautious of clicking on any unknown links and should pay by credit card in case a payment needs to be challenged.
Bethmann said the scams most commonly occur with team sports, such as football, basketball and volleyball.