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Battling Online Gaming Fraud: The Ultimate Combat

Published: December 20, 2023 by Alex Lvoff

The online gaming industry has experienced tremendous growth in recent years, with millions of players engaging in immersive virtual worlds and competitive gameplay. Unfortunately, this surge in popularity has also sparked an increase in online gaming fraud. Unscrupulous individuals have sought to exploit the industry through fraudulent activities, leading to financial losses and reputational damage for gaming vendors.

According to a recent study conducted by Lloyds Bank, children are spending more time playing online games than ever before – over five million children between the ages of three and 15 are now regularly playing games online, up from approximately 4.6 million in 2019.

Fraudsters, always ready to take advantage of opportunities presented by new trends, are now increasingly targeting this rising demographic. Gaming vendors have a responsibility to shield minors from fraud in online gaming by implementing robust safety measures, educating young players and their parents, and actively monitoring and addressing fraudulent activities.  

A vulnerable target

That same study from Lloyds revealed that over a third (36%) of parents are concerned about the possibility of their children falling victim to gaming fraud and losing money. In today’s tech-savvy world, the ease of payment authorization has only exacerbated these concerns. All it takes for a child to make a payment is to key in their parents’ online store username and password. It is a practice fraught with danger. Parents can only do so much to safeguard their children while gaming, and despite their best efforts, there will always remain a lingering possibility of encountering scammers. 

Gaming vendors should establish robust age verification processes during account creation to ensure that minors are not exposed to age-inappropriate content. Additionally, they should incorporate comprehensive parental controls that allow parents to regulate their children’s online activities, including chat limitations, spending controls, and access to certain features.

But contrary to common assumptions, the gaming population is not restricted to teenagers or young adults. With an average age of 35, gamers have significant purchasing power and actively participate in the gaming ecosystem. They spend an average of over six hours per week gaming, dedicating nearly an hour each day to their preferred gaming experiences. This engagement is spread across all age groups and financial profiles, making the gaming community a vast market to attract cybercrime.

Types of fraud in online gaming

In 2022, the revenue from the worldwide gaming market was estimated at almost 347 billion U.S. dollars, with the mobile gaming market generating an estimated 248 billion U.S. dollars of the total. The gaming market is constantly evolving, and technological advancements are opening new possibilities for game developers to create more immersive and engaging experiences.

But alarming reports indicate that scammers have honed in on the younger demographic of gamers, leveraging their innocence to exploit their finances and identities. Identity theft (67%) and hacking (61%) rank as the two most prevalent forms of fraud experienced by young gamers, according to the Lloyds Bank study. Here are some different types of online gaming fraud:

  1. Account hacking: Hackers employ various techniques like phishing, keylogging, and credential stuffing to gain unauthorized access to players’ accounts. Once compromised, accounts could be used for fraudulent activities, including unauthorized in-game transactions or selling virtual assets for real money.
  2. Chargeback fraud: This occurs when players make legitimate purchases within a game using real money and then issue chargebacks, falsely claiming that the transaction was unauthorized or fraudulent. This results in financial losses for gaming vendors as they lose the revenue and virtual goods/services provided to the player.
  3. Virtual asset fraud: Virtual assets, such as in-game currency, items, or characters, hold economic value. Fraudsters engage in scams involving fake virtual asset transactions or market manipulation, exploiting players’ desires to acquire rare or high-value items.
  4. Match-fixing and cheating: Competitive gaming is at the heart of many online games. Fraudsters seek to manipulate matches, exploit glitches, or use cheat software to gain an unfair advantage over others. This undermines the integrity of the gaming experience and discourages fair competition.

The game changer for online platforms: fraud prevention strategies 

Given the anticipated growth of these threats in the foreseeable future, it is imperative that online platforms prioritize the protection of young gamers and their parents. In line with the enhanced safeguards and anti-fraud initiatives observed in banks and financial institutions, it is high time for game companies to elevate their security and consumer protection measures by adopting the following guidelines:

  1. Implement strong account security measures: Encourage players to create unique, complex passwords, and consider implementing multifactor authentication solutions. Regularly educate players about common hacking techniques and promote safe browsing habits to prevent phishing attempts.
  2. Utilize fraud detection systems: Invest in advanced fraud detection tools that employ machine learning algorithms and biometrics templates to identify suspicious activities and patterns. These systems can flag potentially fraudulent transactions, allowing you to take appropriate measures promptly.
  3. Monitor and analyze user behavior: Keep an eye on players’ activities and digital identity, such as unusual login patterns, high-value transactions, or frequent chargebacks. Analyze gameplay data, interactions, and purchasing behavior to identify patterns indicative of fraud or cheating.
  4. Secure payment processing systems: Choose reputable payment gateways that prioritize security measures. Employ tokenization and encryption technologies to safeguard players’ payment information during transactions. Regularly test and update your payment system’s security infrastructure.
  5. Raise player awareness: Educate your player community about common fraud techniques and the importance of securing their accounts with identity authentication. Share security tips through newsletters, blog posts, and in-game messaging. Foster a culture of vigilance and encourage players to report any suspicious activities.
  6. Foster fair gameplay and zero tolerance policy: Implement robust anti-cheat measures and regularly update your game to address vulnerabilities and exploits. Promote fair competition and enforce a zero-tolerance policy against cheating, match-fixing, and other forms of unfair gameplay.

Leveling-up

Ultimately, the ability to protect players online could be the ultimate gamechanger for gaming platforms. By embracing identity verification mechanisms that rely on secure and privacy-centric facial recognition, online fraud and identity theft can be significantly curtailed. Moreover, the verification and onboarding processes can be streamlined, simplifying the user experience further. Just as bringing top-tier games on board is crucial, game platforms must ensure their customers engage in a secure gaming environment. 

Streamlining the onboarding and sign-in process is essential to remain competitive. But how do you balance the need for speed and ease of use with essential ID checks? 

By combining the best data with our automated ID verification checks, Experian helps you safeguard your business and onboard customers efficiently. Using passive, invisible checks when customers sign into their accounts helps to keep fraudsters at bay and protects legitimate players without the need for irritating security challenges. Experian’s best-in-class solutions employ device recognition, behavioral biometrics, machine learning and global fraud databases to spot and block suspicious activity before it becomes a problem.

*This article leverages/includes content created by an AI language model and is intended to provide general information.

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