Gamers: Avoid the Phishing Hook

Filed under: Community |

by Andrew Johnson | Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC

Did you ever get an email that seemed legit, but it asked you to click a link or give up some personal information? Well, if you play massive multiplayer online games, be warned: phishers are looking for ways to get those emails into your inbox.

computer_cloweupHere’s how it goes:

You get an email warning your account is about to be suspended. The reason? The email says “you tried to sell your in-game character or virtual goods for real money.” It claims the gaming company may sue you for as much as $2,700 if you ignore the notice and continue selling virtual goods for real money. If you want to check the status of your account or challenge the suspension, the email tells you to click a link and fill in a “verification” page. In fact, it’s all a trap to try to steal your personal info, like your account or credit card numbers.

It can be hard to tell what’s a scam and what’s legit, especially when an email uses logos or company names. Here are a few tips for dealing with emails like this:

  • Don’t reply and don’t click on links or call phone numbers provided in the message
  • If you’re concerned the message is legit, search for the company’s real contact information on your own and reach out to them yourself
  • Use security software from a trusted source and set it to update automatically
  • Don’t open attachments or download files from unexpected emails; they may have viruses that can harm your computer.

If you ever feel like a message you get is a scam — or if you are unsure — talk about it with family and friends, especially before giving out personal information or sending money. We’ve got more about spotting and reporting phishing messages.