Just when you thought it was safe to get back to your console, we have to inform you that online gaming scams are on the rise. Like other scams and fraudulent activity, online gaming scams increased during the pandemic. And with real-world money stored in online wallets, online games are attractive to scammers.
Many gamers found solace in gaming during Covid-19’s lockdowns. Plenty of gamers reported good mental health as they socialized with meaningful friends despite physical restrictions that sent some non-gamers spiraling into loneliness and depression.
So, it’s really important not to let scammers and criminals ruin gaming. We can enjoy online gaming in peace by raising our awareness of online gaming scams and learning how to protect ourselves online.
Here are scams to be aware of and our top tips on protecting yourself while gaming online.
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Online Gaming Scams
In this scam, a user clicks on a link to reach a page to buy game add-ons, such as clothing, weapons, and abilities. While such pages exist, scammers create real-looking websites to trick users into making bogus, one-sided transactions.
Watch out for emails supposedly from a gaming company asking you to confirm your password and login details. Clicking the link will take you to a fraudulent website. Entering your login and password will send this information directly to scammers, who would then be able to access your account freely.
Fake mobile games
Beware of fake smartphone versions of popular online games. Scammers create fake games to capture your online account details via malware installed on the phone along with or instead of the game. This kind of scam can lead to the theft of credit card information, as well as addresses and phone numbers stored in your phone.
Grooming and Sextortion
Online gaming is a prime location for criminals who aim to profit from children. Due to the relative anonymity of gaming online, criminals can pose as children and teens to gain kids’ trust, their login details, personal information, online and real-world currency, and even sexual images via sextortion.
Fake cheat codes and upgrades
It’s no surprise that gamers like extras to help them get ahead. This might mean entering a cheat code to gain an object or ability without hours of gameplay. Scammers aim to gain gamers’ money and/or credit card details as they attempt to buy fake cheats and upgrades.
Tips for Gaming Online Safely
Use Strong Passwords
Don’t reserve your best password for banking and let your vigilance slip because gaming is fun. A strong password contains at least one upper case letter, a number, and a symbol. Longer passwords tend to be harder to crack than shorter words.
Avoid people’s names or actual words that you might find in a dictionary. And change those passwords regularly. This way, if someone gains unauthorized access to your account, they will have your login details for a limited time.
If you suspect that someone already has access to your account, change that password now. If you use the same password for multiple services, change them all.
Use Two-Factor Authentication When Available
In addition to using a strong password, two-factor authentication will help keep your gaming accounts secure. You will also be asked to prove your identity via an authentication app or by verifying a code sent to your email or smartphone.
Keep Things Official
Be wary of links that attempt to redirect you from the gaming site to a third-party website. If you wish to make a purchase related to the game, make sure to do this on the official site. Fraudulent links can direct users to sites where malicious software can damage their devices or affect security.
Malware in official-looking gaming software can cause lost data and hardware problems. When you download games, make sure you do it via trusted platforms, such as Google PlayStore or Steam. Get enhancements or upgrades through the official game maker’s website to stay safe.
Weed Out Scammers
If you’re unsure about another gamer or a message asking for information, use Nuwber to verify their identity. Nuwber will help you check their authenticity. You’ll be able to see if someone’s story holds up, because you’ll be able to see their real details, including location and occupation.
If someone makes an offer that seems too good to be true – for example, unlimited game downloads for $50 or getting paid a hundred dollars an hour to test games – it’s most likely a scam that will involve you sending money or account details to criminals.
Don’t send money to people you don’t know. Don’t click links from untrusted sources. If in doubt, check them out.
If you suspect that a criminal is posing as a child or attempting to manipulate you, cease communication. You can typically submit a report on the gaming support page. Alternatively, you can report a potential scam to a local consumer affairs agency. If you are a child or teen, go ahead and tell a parent, guardian, teacher, or another trusted adult.
Favor Credit Cards Over Debit Cards
If you make an in-game or game-related purchase, use a credit card rather than a debit card. Credit cards offer greater protection than debit cards. If something goes wrong and/or you are a victim of fraud, you will be much more likely to be reimbursed if you use a credit card instead of a debit card.
Don’t Share Confidential or Personally Identifying Information
Personally identifying information includes your bank account, address, or full name. Reputable, professional companies do not request details like these via messaging. Nor will they ever request your complete login details in a message.
Use a VPN
A Virtual Private Network masks your devices. This can help protect gamers from denial of service attacks that can freeze out gaming opponents. A VPN adds a layer of security while carrying out data or financial transactions.
Install an Antivirus
Being aware of scams is the first line of defense, but we all make mistakes. An antivirus running on your device can protect you if you encounter malware. Suppose you attempt to install something and it turns out to be a threat. In that case, a good virus checker may be able to tell you what’s happening and prevent it from installing or running.
Gaming can be exciting, fun, and good for mental health. It’s a great way to let off steam. Keep gaming safe by being aware of the threats from scammers and mitigating them with these practical tips.