As many as one in five gamers have been a victim of payment fraud in popular games, according to one study from ACI Worldwide, a payment solutions company. From payment scams to phishing and even gaming friendships that lead to something more, the opportunity for scammers to thrive has never been better than it is now thanks to the popularity and accessibility of gaming online. Whether you’ve been gaming for ages or you’re just getting into the hobby, here’s what you should know about the scams out there — and how you can be proactive in staying safe when online.
A variety of scams to be aware of
While immersing oneself into the world of online gaming is a great way to escape from real world stressors, the sheer amount of scams in the gaming industry can be shocking. “Scammers are always looking for new ways to trick people out of their money, and the world of video games is no exception,” notes Philip Robinson, the fraud prevention director at Lloyds. That said, it’s important to keep in mind that scams can vary in complexity, and may involve persuading a gamer to give up their gaming login information, selling fake cheat-codes or upgrades, or tricking people into downloading malware. One popular example of an online gaming scam involves the game Fortnite, where players were told they’d receive free V-bucks if they simply followed a link and submitted some information. While it may have seemed harmless, victims details’ were used to log into the game, run up charges on the account, or even sell the account altogether.
When gaming turns romantic
While many gamers make friends with one another online, it’s not uncommon for such a friendship to turn romantic — something that can potentially turn into an online romance scam rather quickly. For many, this kind of situation may begin as a seemingly harmless friend request from a stranger on the game. From there, the stranger will cultivate a friendship, and eventual romance, which may move to other online social platforms. In fact, romance scams happen to be the second most profitable types of fraud on social media, with more than 33% of people who said they lost money to an online romance scam in 2021 saying that it began on Facebook or Instagram.
For gamers who find themselves in an online relationship, it’s essential to recognize the types of online dating scams out there. The most common, for instance, happen to be requests for money and extortion or blackmail scams. With common signs of a dating scam including “love bombing” (a term that refers to profusely showering one with affection), never meeting up in person, or asking for money for an emergency, it’s imperative to be extremely cautious when chatting online with other gamers, or accepting friend requests from unknown players.
Key ways to protect yourself
Thankfully, there are a myriad of different ways to proactively protect yourself when gaming online. Perhaps the simplest is to follow a general rule of never giving out any personal information, even to those who you consider to be friends online. This includes things like payment information, login credentials, and address. Using a strong password in addition to two-factor authentication are also essential in staying safe, and will give you and your gaming accounts an extra layer of protection. Avoiding any suspicious emails or in-game messages containing links that urge you to reconfirm your password, asking for banking information, or personal information should also be a priority and be deleted immediately, as legitimate companies will never ask for such details in this way.
The prevalence of gaming scams is shocking, and has become a major issue due to factors like the popularity and accessibility of online gaming. From romance scams to those that involve payment fraud and even selling off gaming accounts, there are several different ways that scammers can take advantage of gamers. Thankfully, through simple safety tips, like never giving out personal information, gamers can protect themselves in a proactive way.
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