Identity Theft and Online Gaming: How Cybercriminals Target Unsuspecting Players

September 12, 2018

Online games are more popular than ever before. No longer a niche hobby, gaming has become truly ubiquitous, especially among school-age kids. The past few years have seen the rise of franchises such as Epic Games' Fortnite: Battle Royale, playable across PCs, home gaming consoles and even smartphones. It's free to create an account and start playing, which is part of the reason why it's become a truly addictive pastime for anyone and everyone.

But there's a dark side to this popularity: As history has proven time and again, any activity that brings people together online can become a hunting ground for identity thieves and potential fraudsters. The millions of players logging on to Fortnite and other online games are at risk of giving up their personal data to opportunistic thieves.

Identity Thieves Lurk in Wait

So what should players do to defend themselves? Experian's Matt Tatham recently explained that protecting data on online gaming sites is no different than protecting data when using any other kinds of service. For instance, users should employ unique passwords, never share accounts - even with family members - and use two-factor authentication whenever it's available.

As for the methods that fraudsters use to extract data from online gamers, many scams play into the systems of particular games. Fortnite uses an in-game currency called V-Bucks to vend in-game items. But first, users have to buy the tokens with real money. Plenty of scammers are offering free caches of V-Bucks. Fraudsters use online videos to coax Fortnite account data from viewers. When people enter their account data to get these supposed free rewards, the scammers steal the data and get access to payment details associated with the accounts. They also steal data through email phishing or dangerous banner ads. Essentially all the tools associated with traditional phishing are present, dressed up with the trappings of today's most popular games.

Kids Must Show Caution

Fortnite's appeal to kids is exactly what makes it the perfect target for fraudsters. Young users may not have the same awareness and caution that keep their parents and guardians safe online. Minors may also log on without their parents' knowledge or permission because of the low barriers to entry and lack of up-front costs.

The Independent reported that the phishing methods employed by Fortnite scammers aren't sophisticated. They expect that their victims don't have a sophisticated understanding of online security methods and may operate relatively bare-bones sites designed to collect personally identifiable information. Sometimes scammers even create fake versions of the Fortnite mobile app that steal data when people try to log in. 

Hackers looking for a quick buck will take personal information from kids to figure out how to commit financial fraud on their adult guardians. For a longer-term scam, however, they may use the children's details. Why? Because kids don't yet have their own bank accounts or loans yet, which means illicit use will likely go unnoticed. In fact, today's hackers often create composite IDs with kids' information, damaging their credit in ways that remain hidden for years - until it is far too late.

Don't let the next game you play decide the fate of your data for years to come. Get Identity Guard today to create important warnings around your identity and those of your family members.

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