Are you familiar with the free-to-play game "Fortnite"? It's the latest video game craze that's sweeping the minds, hearts, fingers (and wallets) of young people everywhere.
"Fortnite's" unprecedented surge in popularity is staggering. Epic Games, the maker of "Fortnite," is reportedly making around $300 million a month from the game, thanks in large part to its in-game purchases. So far, Epic has already made over a billion dollars since "Fortnite's" launch. Wow!
The game is definitely big business right now and, as usual, scammers are looking to capitalize on "Fortnite's" massive popularity. With assorted scams, fraudsters are creating fake websites and services to lure "Fortnite" players into giving away their account details and financial information!
If your kids or grandkids play "Fortnite," you really need to know what's going on.
Read on and I'll tell you what to watch out for and what you can do to protect your "Fortnite" accounts.
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Scam 'Fortnite' websites are spreading
Online security firm ZeroFOX has revealed that in just a month's time, from early September to early October, its system has generated over 53,000 alerts linked to "Fortnite" scams.
Where are these scams coming from? Here's the breakdown of the alerts - 86% came from social media, 11% from websites and around 2% from YouTube.
These scam services and sites are reportedly targeting young players by offering free or discounted V-Bucks, "Fortnite's" virtual money. Note: V-bucks are used in the game to purchase items and skins to alter a player's look.
The problem? These are classic phishing scams designed to steal your login credentials and cash.
What exactly is 'Fortnite'?
Released in July 2017, "Fortnite" quickly became one of the most widely played video games around, currently boasting around a whopping 125 million players globally. It’s available to play on multiple platforms like the Xbox One, PlayStation 4, Windows, Mac OS and iOS.
The original "Fortnite" is a third-person shooting game set in a post-apocalyptic earth where players are forced to build their own shelters and protect themselves from zombies.
However, the more popular version is "Fortnite's Battle Royale Mode," where 100 players virtually battle to the death to become the sole survivor. Parents be forewarned, "Fortnite Battle Royale" is a rather violent mode and there are even numerous reports of pedophiles trying to speak with young children through the game.
For this reason, the National Crime Agency (NCA) in the U.K. is urging parents to talk to their kids and monitor their "Fortnite" gameplay habits.
Watch out for fake V-Buck websites
How do these scammers lure "Fortnite" players? First, fake V-buck generators are being offered on sites that look like the official Epic Games website. These sites even mimic the real "Fortnite" login interface, so be careful!
These scam sites are double whammies since, not only are they phishing scams designed to steal your "Fortnite" login information, they will serve you "human verification" links that will bombard you with fraudulent surveys and forms.
These will then will try to fool you into giving them more of your personal information like your name, address, email and even your banking details.
To facilitate the spread of these sites, these fake V-Generator sites promise to give more "points" to unsuspecting users if they share the links. Most of these scam sites even have the word "Fortnite" in their web addresses and domains to trick people into clicking them.
ZeroFOX reports that it has identified over 4,770 domains that are related to "Fortnite" V-Bucks scams so far and that number is still growing.
As always, social media is a widely used promotional tool for these "Fortnite" scams. ZeroFOX has tracked hundreds of alerts a day since September 2018 of social media posts with links to a "Fortnite" scam website.
One platform that's being consistently used by "Fortnite" scammers is YouTube. According to ZeroFOX, scammers are combining social media promotion with YouTube clickbait videos to maximize views and shares.
These videos typically advertise various ways to get free V-Bucks but the links on their descriptions all lead to the same thing - malicious fake "Fortnite" websites.
How widespread are these videos? ZeroFOX said that its research found over 1,390 "Fortnite" scam videos with combined millions of views.
Best safety practices
In response to the rising number of fake "Fortnite" websites that are looking to ride the game's massive popularity, Epic Games is even sending warning emails to game players.
"Beware of scam sites offering things like free or discounted V-Bucks, the email reads. "The only official websites for Fortnite are epicgames.com and fortnite.com."
Epic Games is also warning "Fortnite" players about fake sites that "replicate the look and feel of an official Epic website." "Fortnite" account holders are urged to verify that a website is authentic before they enter their login credentials and their credit card details.
Epic Games stated that unless you are logging into your account, "Epic will never ask for your password or any other account information."
For extra security, players are also urged to turn on two-factor authentication on their "Fortnite" accounts. With this option enabled, players will have to enter a unique code (sent via email) if they log in to their accounts from a new device.
How to turn on 'Fortnite's' two-factor authentication
Although your Epic Games account's two-factor authentication (also known as Two-Factor Sign In) is optional, it is recommended that you turn it on to boost your (and your kid's) account security.
Here is how you enable it:
1. Log in to your Epic Games account then go to Account Settings.
2. Click on the PASSWORD & SECURITY tab.
3. At the bottom of this page, look for the ACCOUNT SECURITY section.
4. Click the ENABLE TWO-FACTOR SIGN IN button.
4. Epic Games will then send an email to the address that's associated with your account to verify the change.
5. Now, each time you log in to your account (such as in the "Fortnite" game) with a new device, you'll be required to enter the one-time access code that is sent to your email. The code will also be required if you clear your browser cookies and if you haven't signed in for at least 30 days.
New Social Security phone scams are so convincing they might even fool you
Social Security Numbers are one of the most precious identification items we have as United States citizens. You need one to do virtually anything within the country. But recently, the Social Security Administration warned of potential phone scammers who are masquerading as the administration and trying to convince people to give them their information so they can steal their identity. Here are ways you can make sure you can protect yourself if you are contacted. Tap or click here to find out how to recognize this latest phishing scam.