Yep, it may look suspicious and scam-like, but it is completely legitimate. Better act fast if you want a piece of that settlement cash. It is ironic that Vizio is informing its customers that it has settled a case that accuses the company of spying on them without authorization by displaying a message on the TVs without authorization.

Is your TV watching you back?

See, in 2015, Vizio was accused by the Federal Trade Commission of keeping tabs of what users watched without their permission and tracked them for years. The company allegedly turned these tracking features on by default and made them difficult to turn off. Aside from content, this data reportedly collected demographic info from each household, such as viewers’ ages, income and marital status, and combined it with their viewing habits to inform targeted ads.

Lawsuits and fines galore

So in 2016, customers filed a class-action lawsuit against Vizio and subsequently,  the company was fined by the FTC to the tune of $2.2 million in 2017 Although Vizio denied (and is still denying) these allegations, as part of its 2017 FTC arrangement, Vizio agreed to ask for user permission first before turning on its smart TV tracking features. Additionally, most of the data that Vizio gathered before March 1, 2016, must be deleted by the company. Now, that’s just the FTC part of the settlement. In 2018, Vizio finally settled the customer class-action lawsuit for $17 million, and this is where the current settlement cash is coming from.

Is $31 enough for your privacy?

As usual, a part of the payout will go to the law firms and the rest will be divided among the estimated 16 million customers who used their Vizio smart TVs between Feb. 1, 2014, and Feb. 6, 2017. The expected price for this violation of your privacy? Around $13 to $31 per television.

How to claim your Vizio money

To get your portion of the settlement cash, visit the website and file your claim before April 29, 2019. Your Vizio TV should’ve been connected to the internet between Feb. 1, 2014 and Feb. 6, 2017. Only one buyer per smart TV is qualified for each household, but you can file a claim for each that you own. To file a claim, the online form requires your name, address, mobile phone number (for digital payments) and email address. It will also ask for your TV’s date of purchase and TV model. If you have any questions about this settlement or if you’re affected by it, you can also contact Vizio’s Settlement Administrator at 877-252-4685.

And it’s not just Vizio who can be tracking you

As shown by Vizio’s recent case, although owning a smart TV is one of the most convenient perks of our modern digital world, are we paying a price for this connectivity? In fact, virtually ALL Smart TVs can track your viewing habits and snoop on you. Some can even monitor what you’re watching on the screen pixel by pixel! If you’re concerned about your smart TV’s snooping abilities, turn them off. Tap and click here and I’ll show you how to turn off tracking on every smart TV brand. Are you watching TV or is it watching you? Can the new generation of smart TVs be hacked? Listen to this free Komando Consumer Tech Update podcast and find out.