Don't let scammers and spammers spoil your gaming

How scammers target mobile gamers – and how to stop them

A young woman gamer
(Image credit: Adobe Stock)

With billions of gamers playing worldwide, mobile gaming is a huge hit – and wherever there's a huge hit you'll also find scammers and spammers trying to spoil it. Mobile gaming is no exception, but the good news is that with a bit of knowledge and the right tools the scams are easy to spot.

Here's how real-world baddies try to game you – and what you can do about it.

1. Lifting your logins

It's not big and it's not clever, but credential stuffing – lifting login details that have been exposed in data breaches – is really common. Scammers use software to test leaked logins on big-name sites and services, and if they get a match they can get into your account in order to steal financial and personal information. Some even steal in-game purchases such as weapons and armour.

You can reduce your risk by making sure you never re-use the same password on multiple accounts. But it's important to stay informed of breaches, because scammers just need one successful login to cause chaos.

2. Malicious apps

Malware – malicious software – is designed to sneak onto your device and gather sensitive information, log your keystrokes or even hold your entire gaming rig to ransom. It's often bundled inside legitimate-looking downloads so the golden rule is to ensure you only download from reputable gaming sites or services and that you approach other sites with extreme caution. Effective security software is a very wise investment too.

3. Cheating cheats

Imagine there was a special code that got you a massive discount on power-ups and other DLC. That's the promise criminals use to get you to give them your card details and your cash in exchange for cheat codes or keys they say will absolutely, definitely work. The only cheats here are the criminals: there's no code and no refunds.

Gaming image

(Image credit: Getty Images)

4. Lots of phish

Phishing is the use of fake but real-looking emails and messages to trick you into handing over login details or financial information – so for example a phishing email might look like an official one from a gaming service you subscribe to, but the links take you to a very convincing fake. Always assume that official-looking emails aren't; for extra piece of mind good security software can identify such frauds to help you ensure you won’t be fooled by them.

5. Scary secret calls

One particularly nasty scam offers you a free game download – but getting it will connect your phone to hugely expensive premium rate numbers, usually in faraway countries, that'll rack up massive bills. It's wise to stick to reputable game stores and app stores; for extra protection some phone providers enable you to restrict or block international calls on your account.

Gamer in front of PC monitor

(Image credit: Adobe Stock)

6. All the games you've ever wanted

Imagine if you could get all the games you've ever wanted for a single, super-low price. £40 or £50 is nothing when you consider the cost of a decent collection of triple-A blockbusters – but unfortunately nothing is also what you'll get if you fall for this scam that tends to be perpetrated by emails and direct messages. Never send money to people you don't know and can't verify, and always go with your gut: if something feels too good to be true, it almost always is.

One of the reasons these scams continue is because people fall for them. So it's wise to be extremely cynical about too-good-to-be-true offers, approaches from people you don't know and anything else that's likely to set your spidey sense tingling. And steering clear of dodgy corners of the internet isn't a bad idea either. 

But even the smartest folks can fall victim to the scammers, or end up with malware. So it's a very good idea to invest in solid security software too, because the tools built into your computer, phone or tablet's operating system aren't that comprehensive. It's a good idea to look for security software that's specifically designed for gamers, such as Norton 360 for Gamers: that's been designed specifically to help protect your devices without affecting performance, because of course the last thing any gamer wants is to lose their competitive edge to a slow system – or their cash to a scammer. 

Click here to find out how Norton 360 Ffor Gamers is the ultimate power-up for your gaming setup.

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