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FBI says your new smart TV may be spying on you

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PHOENIX — If you bought a smart TV for Black Friday or Cyber Monday, the Federal Bureau of Investigation has a warning for you.

Beth Anne Steele, a public affairs specialist for the FBI, said the newest smart TVs are equipped with all the latest technology. That includes built-in cameras, connection to the internet and facial recognition.

But she said these TVs can also be “a gateway for hackers to come into your home.”

“At the low end of the risk spectrum, they can change channels, play with the volume, and show your kids inappropriate videos,” she said. “In a worst-case scenario, they can turn on your bedroom TV’s camera and microphone and silently cyberstalk you.”

There are steps Steele recommends taking to guard against possible intrusion.

Steele said smart TV owners should educate themselves on their TVs’ features and how to control them. That includes knowing how to enable and disable the microphones, cameras and collection of personal information.

“If you can’t turn off a camera but want to, a simple piece of black tape over the camera eye is a back-to-basics option,” she said.

Smart TV owners should also change the default passwords set by the TV manufacturers.

“Check the privacy policy for the TV manufacturer and the streaming services you use,” Steele added. “Confirm what data they collect, how they store that data, and what they do with it.”

Victims of cyber fraud can file a report online to the FBI’s Internet Crime Complaint Center or by calling their local FBI office.

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