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FBI Sending Out A Warning When Using Smart TVs

CHICAGO (CBS) --  One of the hottest sellers this holiday season is now coming with a warning from the FBI.

CBS 2's Vince Gerasole reports if you buy a smart TV, be prepared to take some smart security steps too.

Here's the picture when it comes to smart TV sales: consumers are buying them up fast.

"They are really replacing TVs before they even break because they are such a good value," according to Carl Prouty of Abt Electronics.

Pictures are crisper and prices are lower. A 65-inch model sells for under $700 now, almost half its price form two years ago.

"It's harder to find a TV that isn't smart than to find one that is," Prouty said.

Smart TVs allow users to connect directly to the internet and streaming services like Netflix or Hulu. Today, they function more like a computer, or even your mobile phone.

"I don't know everybody fully understands everything that they are capable of because there is so much," Prouty added.

And that has the FBI issuing a warning.

Just like with other devices their built in microphones could be listening to us and their browsers can also be targets for hackers looking for your passwords.

Just how common are these devices? The industry estimates there in the United States? It's estimated there are 46 million in U.S. homes, a 17% increase over the past year.

Prouty said he hasn't come across customers who've been hacked, but he did walk through some protective steps.

For example, be sure to update your smart TVs apps. They often include enhanced security settings.

"You can go to settings menu and then it will give you the option to turn off voice recognition," Prouty said but he added that the process varies from model to model, and requires a review of the user's manual.

"That's where it can get confusing depending on your brand. But all of them have something that allows you to do that," Prouty said.

And as one of the most popular buys this Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend, it makes sense for security conscious consumers to get that picture.

TV manufacturers also have privacy and security information they update online.

A routine search can keep you current on those updates.

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