Don’t Get Played: Watch Out for These Xbox Scams

Gaming is a multi-billion dollar industry that covers a wide range of people across all demographics, ages, genders, and interests. With over 21 million units sold since release, the Xbox Series X and Series S are two of the most popular consoles worldwide.

Unfortunately, this popularity comes at a price, as new Xbox scams are developed daily to target gamers, steal their personal information, defraud them, and, worse – steal their accounts.

This article will explore common scams you might face as an Xbox gamer. You’ll discover how to identify these scams and, more importantly, learn simple ways to protect your accounts from harm.

The rise in Xbox gaming scams

As gaming becomes an even bigger industry, it’s no surprise that hackers, scammers, and cybercriminals are all keen to tap into it.

Research from Lloyds Banks shows that over one in five gamers have fallen victim to game-related scams or know someone who did in 2022. There are two significant scams that players need to be wary of, including:

  1. Online shopping scams

Online shopping has revolutionised how we buy games. But unfortunately, it is now being used to defraud players.

Scammers can create fake listings on popular websites to con gamers. Late in 2023, for example, an online scam on discounted Xbox Series X consoles was discovered on the popular marketplace Amazon.

When clicked, shoppers didn’t see that the fulfiller of the offer wasn’t Amazon, but rather an unknown vendor called ‘Maria’s Retail Shop SRL.’ Customers reported they were given incorrect tracking information and, despite cancelling the order, were still charged for the purchase.

It’s important to remember that it’s not just Xbox consoles and games that can be fraudulent, but subscription services, too. In 2022, for example, Microsoft cancelled Xbox game pass user subscriptions after discovering they bought their plans through fraudulent resellers who upgraded plans through deception.

Innocent gamers thought they were getting a cheaper deal when being sold a service that was against Xbox’s terms and conditions. The advice was clear – only buy through Microsoft or verified third-party sellers moving forward.

  1. Phishing scams

Phishing is one of the most common scams online. It is when a scammer impersonates a legitimate person or service to trick you into doing something that compromises your account security.

In gaming, scammers may try the following:

  • Pretend to be customer support and message you about your account
  • Message you in-game or via email promising free content, items, or currency
  • Create fake websites offering in-game rewards in exchange for login details
  • Pretend to be someone off your friend’s list

The scammer will use personal information they’ve collected about you to make it seem like they’re trustworthy. They will continue to ask you for sensitive information, such as your email address and password, or ask that you click a suspicious link or download a file attachment.

Through this, the scammer can gain intimate access to your profile, allowing them to empty in-game credit, trade away high-valued items, make unauthorised purchases or use information gathered to defraud you outside the Xbox network.

Three easy ways to protect yourself online against Xbox scams

Thankfully, there are many things you can do to bolster your defences online, secure your account, and ensure you can play on your Xbox without any concerns. These include:

  1. Using a virtual private network (VPN)

A VPN is one of the best ways to protect yourself while gaming. This cybersecurity tool encrypts your internet connection, scrambling your data and preventing anyone from spying on your screen and learning personal information about you and your account.

An Xbox VPN works seamlessly in the background and can be used directly on your router or via your PC to protect your console from attacks. Scammers won’t be able to track your online activity and learn about games you play or services you’re interested in.

Its ability to mask your IP address ensures that no one can learn your location or launch DDoS attacks to try to derail your games. The best Xbox VPNs will have built-in threat protection, which can flag suspicious phishing sites and malicious downloads before you click on them. This helps prevent you from visiting fraudulent websites or downloading malware that can steal information and compromise your accounts.

  1. Stronger passwords

Passwords are the backbone of cybersecurity and can help repel many cyberattacks that scammers will launch your way.

If you want to make a strong password for your Xbox account:

  • Make it longer: Aim for a password of at least 12 characters.
  • Mix it up: Use various upper and lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers to add complexity to your password.
  • Never repeat: Set a unique password for every account you use.
  • Avoid personal: Never use personal information, like a date of birth or pet name, as passwords.
  • Never share: Do not share your password in emails or in-game messages.
  • Enable MFA: Set up multi-factor authentication on your Xbox account and any linked payment services to alert you to unauthorised login attempts.
  1. Shopping on legitimate websites

Remember, only buy games through official marketplaces, which usually have quality controls to prevent fraud or deception.

Before visiting a website, remember to check the web address thoroughly. Scammers might try substituting a letter or number in the URL to trick you into thinking their site is legitimate.

Additionally, only buy from verified websites. By visiting third-party websites, you may unintentionally give private information to scammers. Further, purchase services like the Xbox game pass from Microsoft directly or from a verified third-party seller.

Finally, scammers might use sensational offers and promotions to entice you to their websites and services. Use common sense – if the game, in-game item, or special offer is too good to be true, sold at a meagre price, or even given for free, it’s most likely not legitimate and should be avoided.

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A heavy gamer, there's nothing that Faith loves more than spending an evening playing gacha games. When not reviewing and testing new games, you can usually find her reading fantasy novels or watching dystopian thrillers on Netflix.

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