Read on to find out how to identify and avoid online gaming scams.
Online gaming scams have been around for almost as long as we’ve had online games. Whether they were ways for hackers to steal your credit card details or a way for them to access your accounts, the scams were simple and effective in the beginning.
Nowadays, the scams are similar, but they are very well hidden and can easily look legitimate to those who don’t know any different. Here are a few common online gaming scams and ways to avoid them.
Types Of Gaming Scams
While it may seem like there are a wide variety of gaming scams, most fall into one of the following five categories. Being able to identify them will let you protect yourself from scams.
Free items that usually cost money
One of the most common scams is sites or social media accounts offering items, which would usually cost money, for free. Whether it be a Fortnite skin or an item in World of Warcraft, if it usually costs money or in-game currency, how is it possible to give away a lot of them for free?
It is important to remember that no one is spending $5–$10 on hundreds of Fortnite skins simply to give them away for free.
Item trade propositions
This is another common scam and is one that affects online games that have assets that are worth real money, such as Counter-Strike. The scam involves a simple “I’ll give you X if you trade me Y.”
Unless you are trading with a friend or family member, you will likely trade away your item and get nothing in return.
Cheat software is often infested with malware that hackers and data thieves can use to access your system and personal data. To avoid this, simply don’t download cheating software, as the negatives drastically outweigh any benefits.
Don’t trust any offers that come from third-party advertisers. There are tens of thousands of social media accounts that “look” like official accounts, but that is part of the scam.
You will often see imitation accounts with slightly different names than the official ones. Unless an offer is made by the official account of a game or service, it is always best not to click or accept it.
Another common scam, especially among mobile games, is being a beta game tester. The scammer will get hold of your account or email address and message you saying you have qualified to be a tester and can earn certain rewards for playing the game.
These scams often look very real as the company’s website and game look legitimate, but more often than not, it is simply a way to access personal information, such as your credit card details.
While game testing is not a scam, most developers won’t randomly email you asking you to become one; you usually have to apply and be approved by them.
How To Avoid Scams
If you are still worried you may be a victim of an online gaming scam, there are a few ways to avoid them and factors to look out for.
If it’s too good to be true
The first thing to look for is probably one of the most obvious; if it is too good to be true, it probably is. If a random Instagram account offers 5,000 free V-Bucks or free Call of Duty skins if you send your credit card details, there is absolutely no way that is a legitimate offer.
These types of scams can be a little more subtle nowadays, as leaderboards for some games can be viewed online. If you get a message saying you have won something for finishing in the top 500 or top 100 of a game, it most likely isn’t real.
Only download the official software
Nowadays, there are few, if any, games that offer additional content that you have to access using a different website. Most software that interacts with a game is either cheat software or a full-on scam.
Because of this, the best course of action is to completely ignore any software that says “download to access new DLC” or “download to access free skins or in-game currency,” real game developers wouldn’t create software that does the job of an in-game store.
Double-check offers online
Another way to check if an offer or discount is legitimate is to look online at the game’s website and social media pages. Games like Fortnite and Call of Duty will, 99% of the time, at the very least, tweet about something new.
If you don’t have any luck going that route, logging into the game will confirm or deny any offers. It is probably fake if you can’t find the offer in the in-game store.
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