How Gamers of All Ages Can Avoid Online Scammers
The risk of being scammed online is ever-growing, and gamers may be even more vulnerable to scams than the average person. They engage actively and passively in online communities as they geek out with similarly-minded people. With $547 million lost in 2021 to online scammers, the stakes are high. Gamers can take some extra precautions to avoid scams and the embarrassment and pain of being fooled out of their money.
Don’t Give Out Personal Information
Gamers should be hesitant to submit credit card information or any other personal information. Scammers these days can easily disguise themselves as official representatives of video game companies. Many modern games include micro-transactions and other opportunities to spend money within the game. It’s becoming increasingly common for scammers to send a private message to the player on behalf of the game and offer a reward in exchange for some personal information. When in doubt, gamers should be skeptical and contact customer service to understand whether the message could have come from the actual video game company. It’s also important to report scammers when encountered.
Don’t Click on Random Links
A couple of strategies of scammers are to install harmful malware on their targets’ computers and to access personal information. For these reasons, gamers should be careful not to click on links from unknown sources, even if they feel like they have begun to develop a relationship of trust. Online friendships can never be completely trusted, and many scammers play a long game of gaining a little bit of trust before inviting victims to check something out that will ensnare them. Be especially careful about downloading anything without knowing the source and being sure that it is legitimate. According to Statista, there are approximately 1.8 billion websites on the internet. The internet is still the Wild West in many ways, and unregulated websites that can cause harm abound.
Using two-factor authentication and strong passwords is also becoming increasingly important. It’s becoming easier for scammers to determine a target’s password, and this becomes a real crisis when a user has the same basic password for everything. Maintaining strong, unique passwords and using two-factor authentication both require some extra effort, but they are both well worth it in the long run. There are many gamers who have been hacked and regret not being more careful.
One thing that should be obvious but is often ignored is not using full names or other personal information within a game. Scammers look for users who appear to have used their full name on a game profile or avatar and then seek to befriend the gamer to get even more information. Keep your characters anonymous and make sure that you aren’t leaving any puzzle pieces that an observant person could take advantage of.
Don’t Trust Everyone
Remote work is on the rise in the U.S., and as a result, between 14 and 23 million Americans are planning to move. This puts gamers in little-known physical environments, which can make them more open to being scammed. Gamers who have recently moved likely lack friends and community in their new locale and are consequently more likely to fall into traps online by trusting someone behind a screen. Don’t allow loneliness or stresses associated with moving allow you to put down your guard online. These are people that scammers know are vulnerable to doing something careless. Additionally, verify that links to things in your area are legitimate before clicking on them
Gamers can avoid scams by being vigilant and protective of personal information. Adopt strong passwords and two-factor authentication when possible, and be aware that online forums are full of people trying to take advantage of gamers. Be part of the solution by spreading awareness to fellow gamers and reporting scammers as they pop up.