Staying Safe While Gaming

Gaming can be a great way to chill out and spend time with friends, but there are some risks to be aware of. In this article we share some tips for how to stay safe when gaming online.

How much information do you share when gaming?

When you first create an account on a game, make sure not to share any personal information that can be seen publicly. For example, when creating a username, don’t include your date of birth or full name as this could mean someone could link your gaming account to other social media accounts you have and find out more information about you.

If you need a profile picture, you could try using an avatar instead of a photo.

In most online games, chatting is an important part of gameplay. It’s a common feature in a lot of these games and is usually a safe space where you can chat with friends. However, when you’re talking to someone from behind a screen there’s a risk that they aren’t who they say they are.

When chatting to other players, make sure not to give away personal information like your address, date of birth, phone number or full name. Any personal information that you share online makes it easier for identity thieves and hackers to gather all the information they need about you. So be suspicious if someone asks for these details if you don’t know them.

If someone asks you for personal details, most games will have a report option that you can use to ensure they don’t try to steal other peoples data.

Read our ‘Gaming: Chat room and forums’ article for more information on how to minimise risks and take care of yourself when you’re spending time online.

Gaming scams

Gaming accounts are often a target for scammers because they can be linked to credit cards or personal information. Here are some examples of gaming scams to be aware of:

  • Phishing scams: A scammer could try and get personal information about you using the chat feature of a game.
  • Players could hack into your account or try to scam you into giving up ‘skins’ or other in-game items.
  • A common gaming scam involves scammers advertising free in-game currency, where they try to get you to reveal information about you, such as your username and password.
  • Another thing to watch out for is the risk of buying game keys online (a game key lets you enter a code to download that game) as you run the risk of going through a non official site to purchase a game.

Here are some tips to protect yourself from these types of scam:

  • Use strong passwords. Check out our ‘How to make a safe password’ article!
  • Turn on multi-factor authentication
  • Only download games or mods from legitimate sites and platforms to avoid viruses.
  • Check your privacy settings. Some platforms, when you sign up, default to public which means that anyone can see what you’re posting. One of the best ways to make sure you don’t overshare is to set your account to private.
  • Block and report any suspicious accounts.
  • You could also install a VPN for gaming. A virtual private network will encrypt your internet traffic meaning your location is hidden. It should be noted however with some online games if you are detected using a VPN it could result in a permanent ban. You should always check that the game your playing allows the use of a VPN.

For more information on phishing scams and how to protect yourself online, visit our DigiKnow campaign.

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