4 Tips to Avoid Being Scammed on Video Games
The video game industry provides endless options to upgrade and spend money. With credit card scams and phishing attacks on the rise, it's important to take the steps necessary to avoid being scammed. Not only are scammers going for credit card information, but they're also going for the gaming account — which is worth money on its own.
Sadly, it's become easier than ever for scammers to trick gamers into falling prey to online fraud that puts their financial security at risk. One in five gamers has been duped by financial fraud while gaming.
Here's how to ensure you don't get taken while gaming:
1. Safeguard Your Login Credentials
Your username and password are the virtual keys and are often attached to your credit card and personal information.
Scammers may offer you free upgrades or discounted in-game currency — and the offer might even come from a teammate asking to make a trade.
They'll ask for your username and password to dump the virtual merchandise into your account and tell you they'll return your account once the trade is completed — this is a big red flag. Never allow anyone access into your account.
Ignore any requests for your username and password. Remember, game developers will never ask for your login credentials. Be sure to report the suspected scammer to the developer and block them as well.
2. Use Password Best Practices
The safer your password, the safer your account is from potential hackers. Create strong passwords and change them frequently. Business Insider and Life Hacker offer tips on generating strong passwords. Be sure to use a different password for each gaming account.
For an extra layer of login security, enable two-factor authentication to receive a special code sent via text. Even if a scammer steals your login credentials they won't be able to get into your account without this code.
It's also important to verify any new purchases. If you suspect a phishing scam or that your account has been hacked, contact the game developer immediately to request a refund. Then, reach out to the credit card provider of any fraudulent charges and ask them to freeze your account.
3. Make Sure It's Official
Don't click on pop-up ads or in-message links promising free or discounted virtual goods. Malware programs disguised as the real deal look official but are usually slightly off. Type in the official URL rather than clicking on a link. Fake gaming apps have defrauded gamers and hacked their systems, stealing their accounts and personal information. Pay attention to details and watch for misspellings.
Only buy games from official stores. Don't download "cracked" games. Not only are pirated copies illegal under copyright laws, but some 90 percent of cracked copies contain malware, according to Make Use of.
4. Install Anti-Virus Software
Hackers look for system vulnerabilities that malware can exploit to wreak havoc. They're betting you won't install anti-virus protection to avoid reduced gaming speed. And if you've installed virus protection, they'll try to get you to turn it off. If a video game asks you to disable anti-virus protection to increase game speed, chances are it's a corrupted version or your system has been hacked.
PC Gamer reviewed the best anti-virus programs for PC gaming that won't slow down your gaming performance. Malware is also becoming a growing problem on smartphones, according to Digital Trends, which reviewed the best anti-virus smartphone apps.
With a little precaution, you can continue battling virtual villains, and cybercriminals, too.