Attorney General Ford Offers Tips to Avoid Scams While Playing Online Games

May 13, 2020

 Carson City, NV – Nevada Attorney General Aaron D. Ford is advising Nevadans of all ages to be safe while playing games online. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many Nevadans may be looking for ways to have fun indoors but are encouraged to be cautious and exercise judgment while playing any online games.  

“Games are a fun way to pass the time at home and socialize virtually, but they can also be a conduit for cybercriminals,” said AG Ford. “While playing your favorite game, keep in mind that real criminals are eager to access your personal and financial information.”

As with other online platforms, scammers may use online games to steal players’ identities or financial account information. They may use a variety of tactics to obtain this information from unsuspecting gamers.

One common method is through phishing, in which scammers send an email or direct message with a fake link designed to trick users. The message may appear to be from the game or some other legitimate source. Once clicked, the link may appear to be the game’s log-in page, prompting users to enter their username and password. Because many games are linked to users’ credit or bank accounts, scammers can use this information to make purchases or steal users’ virtual credits. The hyperlinks may also download malware designed to take over users’ accounts on various gaming platforms or consoles. The platforms and consoles may contain information such as a user’s full name, physical address, phone number and credit or debit card information.

Scammers may also direct gamers to third-party websites where they can buy add-ons, such as outfits, weapons or new abilities, or purchase a way to generate online currency for use in the game.Some of the sites deploy clever tricks to encourage users to click ads that may generate ad click revenue for the scammers or download malware to the users’ devices. These sites look like legitimate sites and trick users into completing transactions for purchases they will never receive. Many of the sites redirect users from one social network to another. Often, the links lead to a website requiring users to share a code from their personal game account, which then grants scammers access to payment information and to the user’s gaming devices. Sometimes these sites send follow-up or authentication emails to maintain the appearance of legitimacy. In the end, these webpages are fake, and the users never see the items or currency they expected or thought they had purchased.

Attackers may also target gamers’ IP addresses, which is a unique Internet location for each user. Once the attacker has your IP address, he or she may be able to discover your physical address, full name and other information sensitive information.

AG Ford urges all users to be vigilant and follow these tips to avoid online game scams:

  • Only use official websites for any purchases related to the game. Do not click on links that redirect you to third-party websites;
  • Never respond to an email or direct message request asking for your banking, financial, or personal information, even if it appears to be from the gaming platform. Legitimate companies do not ask for information via messaging;
  • Do not share personal information, identifying data or account information online;
  • Use a strong password for the game login and two-factor authentication when available;
  • Do not share login credentials with friends;
  • Avoid using debit cards for purchases. Credit cards offer greater security protections and are not linked to an account with finite money; and
  • Protect your device’s IP address by updating your router and firewall rules to prevent unauthorized access. You may also consider purchasing a virtual private network, known as a VPN. A VPN protects your data through encryption and directing your online traffic through a separate server, making it appear as though you are connecting to the Internet from elsewhere.

Users who believe they have been victimized by an online game scam are encouraged to submit a detailed report on the game’s support page and contact their credit or debit card company to dispute charges.