Humans can be incredibly inventive, especially when it comes to getting something for free using not very fair ways. I’d rather people used their innate inventiveness for benevolent means, but the reality is that there is always a certain amount of scammers present in every community. At first, this was hard regarding the fact that people who fancied the first computer games had nearly the same amount of IT-related knowledge. However, as the community grew to an astonishing 2.3 billion people, the central part of the gamers had no idea how the simplest mechanics work. This created a basis for fraud.
The mechanics of your Steam account also makes it prone to scams. The platform operates on a cloud-based system, which means that you can access your account from any device just after entering your login and password. This is convenient, regarding the fact you can use all your games and skins from any PC without tedious confirmation that this is truly you, or without transferring an account from one device to another. However, the same comfy mechanics makes inattentive users prone to fraud and deceit.
It’s worth noting that most of the scam schemes are based on users’ inattentiveness, and are rarely “hacking” in the classic way we understand it, with retreating your account information. However, some of the schemes are so tricky it looks like some “borderline hacking.” Let’s take a closer look at the most popular ways of Steam scam and how to avoid getting into the trap.
1) Prepayment scam.
This infamous scam type has probably appeared at the exact moment an ancient homo sapiens found out that you could take something during a barter without giving your goods instead, and run away. In ancient times you could at least try your luck and run after a person who did this to you and do whatever you want with them, but in the era of the Internet, the scammer is in a lot safer position.
The most popular and quite tricky type is sending the following messages to the victim via Steam chat:
• SteamPayment will allocate $10 to your account after the exchange with this user.
In fact, Steam has no such functions, and official platform will never send such notifications. If the gamer has never traded on the platform before, there’s a high chance they decide the message was sent by the system and confirm the exchange. While in reality, the scammer didn’t send any money or goods. The worst part about this scam is that you have no way to punish the cheater, as you accepted the deal of your own free will.
2) Exchange without your confirmation.
To ensure the safety of trades and exchanges on Steam, you are asked to agree to the terms of exchange and confirm it afterward. However, sneaky cheaters managed to break the system by deceiving inattentive users or those who have a poor understanding of the tools of remote control.
This one is mainly aimed at people who have little understanding of how programs such as Team Viewer work. The scammer asks you to install such a program and give your ID and pass generated by the application when you launch it, and voila – you have just granted remote access to your computer. Then the deceiver gains access and confirms the exchange before you can do anything, leaving you with no money and no skins. Again, proving that you were subjected to a scam is a challenging task, as you were the one responsible for sharing Team Viewer info.
Some scammers probably believe in the notion “all or nothing,” so they go for the whole account. Sadly, most of the methods are also based on inattentiveness, and once you have revealed some of your info, you can’t protect your account. So, be attentive and remember about these ways of account-related fraud.
1) Access key scam.
This is probably the worst loophole in the Steam security system, though it helps to unlock your account if you have no means of restoring your password. You probably know where I’m going with this. The method works when you are buying a game access key from an individual seller. You want the game cheaper than in the official store, the guy behind the screen wants to earn a little, what’s wrong with that?
The thing is, you have no means of making sure that the seller destroys the key as soon as you have purchased it. So, they know your login and access key, and that’s everything you need to know to reset your password and “restore” the account. Sounds grim, right? I firmly advise you to cooperate with trusted services and individual retailers.
2) Third party website scam.
If you have seen my article about Steam skins that modify the exterior of our beloved client, then you know I’ve avoided installing a spectacular HyperBeast themed skin because it required downloading an app and disclosing your account info. I am not implying that the site is a scammer, but we all understand that every website has a certain degree of inherent risk, and I use such websites. The question is whether the risk is controlled and justified.
The scam is obvious here – you willingly disclose your login and password on a third party website, which means that Steam scam report won’t have any effect because legally you have no power to sue the scammer. Another popular variation of the fraud is “my friend likes your stuff” scenario when you are given a link to what looks like a Steam profile, but in reality is a scam website.
This scenario involves any links to third party websites, and they are often disguised as “free skin code” or “discount code” send by someone from your friends list. Scammers are usually active during holidays, as people are expecting presents and giveaways and lose their vigilance. Remember the Steam Halloween scam mechanics and stay attentive.
3) Screenshot link scam.
Someone friends you, says they like your inventory and send you a link to a screenshot of your list. Though this is purely illogical, a lot of us, myself included, often operate on autopilot forgetting to double-check or simply ask “why?”. Of course, after clicking the link, you will be redirected to a website with a script designed explicitly for stealing your Steam account info, though it may contain the picture mentioned above with the inventory.
There are several reasons not to trust someone who messages a screenshot to you. First of all, one can easily grant access to their inventory by setting “for friends only” without being afraid that unwanted eyes will see it. Secondly, a screenshot isn’t enough to contain all the inventory. And finally, it may imply that the picture is fake and composed of several shots of different accounts, luring you to agree for the trade.
What to Do When Scammed
I doubt that you are reading this material out of sheer boredom or for educational purposes. Suspect that you have already been hacked, or you anticipate such an outcome. First of all, don’t panic even if you have recognized your situation in the described above. Though each case is individual, here are some basic guidelines for you to make the process of account returning easier:
- Write the reason for the problem with login honestly, with specific detail. If you simply send a request for lost password or e-mail, your question may not be given enough attention. At least you won’t receive an immediate answer, which can be crucial in case of account stealing.
- Don’t panic, you have 15 days to restore your account because Steam Guard won’t allow to trade or exchange items from your stolen account. All hail Valve for this system!
- Amount of time needed for account restoration varies from two days to two weeks, so the sooner you send an application the higher is the chance to get your account back.
Now let’s move to specific actions you can perform in case you have fallen prey to Steam code scam or any other type of fraudulent activity described above.
Recover Your Account Using Official Steam Website
Here’s a list of action step-by-step for you to follow:
- First of all, go here and read all the information provided by Steam. Then create an account on Steam support website if you don’t own one (it is not identical to your Steam account, so don’t try to log in using your primary account data).
- After confirming your account, go to the website and click “Create a ticket.”
Describe your situation precisely, but with minimum unnecessary detail. Here’s an example of what you can write:
• Your question: Hacked account, please, help with recovery
• Topic: Steam account
• Category: Choose “Account questions” – “Hijacked or Stolen Account” from the drop-won list
• Steam Account Name: Your stolen account name
• CD Key: look at CD case of any game which is added to your Steam account
- After submitting your question, you need to confirm the fact that you own the game. Find your ticket number on the topic of the letter sent to your email, write it next to the CD key and make a photo.
- Go to “Your questions,” find your open ticket and attach the photo. Patiently wait for your account to be rescued.
Nuances. If you don’t have a CD Key because you have paid online, do the following:
For credit card payments, skip the “CD Key” and fill in the “Your Question” with this information: Type of your credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express), your full name as inscribed on the card, last four digits of the number (WARNING: don’t specify the full card number!), the date of transaction if possible.
For PayPal payments, again skip the “CD Key” and fill in the “Your Question” with these details about your account: your PayPal login, e-mail attached to the payment account, your PayPal identifier and identifiers of the transaction.
You can do the same thing without registering at the Steam Support website – just send a letter answering all the questions from the point three above and specifying your identifier based on the payment method (credit card, PayPal) or sending a photo of the CD Key with your email written next to it.
The Easiest Way to Keep Your Account Safe
Note that if your account receives a VAC ban while being hijacked, Steam support can’t remove it even if issued when the account was used by someone else. Keep your account safe by following the rules and suggestions specified on the official website of the client, remember that other people are rarely willing to give their stuff to you for free, and your beloved account is going to be safe. And of course, know your enemies – now that you have learned how to scam om Steam you made your account more secure.