Q. Sometimes when I try to watch Netflix, I get a message that says my account is already in use so I can’t watch it. Why is that? Usually when this happens, I’m the only person at home. No kids. No hubbie. Can you help me? — Edie, Los Angeles.

Edie, you may be the only person at home, but that doesn’t mean no one else is watching.

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Before you run and hide under the covers, let me explain.

Netflix has three streaming plans, ranging from $7.99 a month to $13.99 a month. The $7.99 a month plan, which only includes standard definition programming, permits streaming on one device at a time. The $11.99 a month package, which includes high-def titles, allows for streaming on two different devices at a device. And the $13.99 a month plan, which includes HD and 4K programming, permits streaming on four different devices at the same time.

For instance, with the $13.99 package, you, your husband, and two kids could watch Netflix at the same time. But if a fifth person tried to watch, he or she would get the message, ‘Your account is already in use.’

And with the $7.99 plan, the second person on your account would get that message, which is a bit inconvenient, to say the least.

But what about your situation? You say you are the only person watching. That should be okay with all three plans, right?

Not necessarily.

If you have allowed a friend to borrow your Netflix user name and password, he or she could be watching at the same time you are trying to watch. That would be one over the limit for the $7.99 plan.

It’s also possible that your friend has given the user name and password to a friend, who has also given it to a friend…well, you get the idea. Bottom line: You might want to be careful about sharing your Netflix login.

And Edie, if you haven’t given your Netflix info to anyone, there’s yet another scenario in play, one that’s decidedly more sinister. Hackers often steal Netflix passwords and sell them on the black market. If you think this is a possibility, change your Netflix user name and password at once.

For more help on determining whether someone is using your Netflix account without your permission, Netflix has set up this very helpful page.

Hope that helps, Edie. Happy Viewing!

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