A Parent’s Guide to Scamming

This article isn’t about scams in general that target teens, although we’ve written about that stuff in the past. In the context of multiplayer video games, scamming has a specific meaning. Scamming is when a game player tricks or steals valuable game items or even an entire account from another player. Here’s what you need to know.

Trade Scamming

Depending on your age, you may remember a time when your elementary school banned trading stickers, pogs, or Pokémon cards. Why? Because kids can target each other with unfair trades and then make fun of the poor kid who gave up his or her sweet holographic shadowless first edition Chansey for a lowly foil Pikachu that isn’t even vintage. (Side note: we’re not still bitter about it, we swear.)

Well, the modern version of this happens online in video games. Many games have trade systems that let players trade in-game items, like weapon skins, taunts, dances, and more. And remember, these items, though digital, often have real-world value. If your child has ever borrowed your credit card for Fortnite items, you already know that.

A trade scam involves someone trying to convince your child to accept an unfair trade. Or they may use technical skills to misrepresent what they’re trading. Or they may offer to teach your child “this one cool trick” if your child hands over valuable items. After the bad trade, your child risks being ridiculed or harassed for making such a bad trade.  Sometimes videos of the scam are posted to YouTube, and there’s also a trend of individuals trying to scam the person who scammed them and posting those videos to YouTube.

Account Scamming

Account scamming is when someone tries to steal an entire game account, thus gaining all the items and games attached to said account. The goal may be monetary, as an entire account is often worth hundreds of dollars.

However, the goal may also be impersonation. As we’ve mentioned before, one type of impersonation is when someone pretends to be their victim in order to ruin their reputation. In a gaming context, they might also do things that get their victim banned from their favourite games.

Beware of services that require your child to enter login credentials in exchange for money, in-game currency, or other goodies. Make sure you speak with your child about things that seem too good to be true.

What to Do

The first line of protection is prevention. If your child is young, it might be a good idea to make a rule banning them from trading in games, at least until they’re more mature.

In terms of protecting your child’s account, make sure you have some kind of parental controls enabled. Specifically, you want two-factor authentication enabled and some kind of control over how the account is accessed.

After a scam, the first (and many times, only) step you can take is to report it. The steps you must take are different in different games.

If your child ends up starring in a scamming video on YouTube, you will have to report the video. To do this, look below the video. To the far right of the Like, Dislike, and Share buttons, there is a button with three horizontal dots. Click it and you get a down menu. From here, the first option is Report.

The Bottom Line

Games are safe, in general, but it’s important to be aware of scamming in video games. To learn more, read our non-gaming parent’s guide to online gamingand our gaming tips for the non-gamer parent.