Fortnite Battle Royale is one of the most popular games in the world right now, in large part because of its young fans. Kids can’t seem to get enough of the game, and will spend hours battling other online players and conducting research on gameplay and strategy to get the edge.
Unfortunately, Fortnite’s popularity has made its players a big target for scammers and identity thieves. These scammers take advantage of kids' obsession with Fortnite and online naivety to steal information and money from them.
According to The Independent, a common and prevalent scheme involves Fortnite’s in-game currency, called “V-bucks.” Although the game is free to download and play, users can purchase V-bucks with real money to make cosmetic changes and other upgrades. Kids often search the web for ways to earn “free” V-bucks so they can keep up with their friends and fellow players.
Armed with this knowledge, malicious actors create and post YouTube videos and websites that instruct users to download malware and provide sensitive personal information in exchange for free V-bucks. While many adults can spot these scams from a mile away, kids don’t have the experience to avoid these too-good-to-be-true offers.
If your child plays or wants to play Fortnite (or any other multiplayer online game), follow these steps to protect your child, their gaming system, and your personal information:
Install Antivirus Software
In case your child does inadvertently install a virus or malware on your gaming system, make sure you’re protected with antivirus software. These programs can prevent threats from downloading on your system, and you can use the situation as a learning experience for your child.
Set Limits On Communication With Other Players
Many online games allow players to communicate with each other over voice chat. Before allowing your child to use this feature, warn them that strangers may try to tell them to go to a strange website or share personal information. If you’re not worried about a stranger tricking your child over voice chat, be aware that a bully can harass and disturb your child over voice chat. Make sure your child is old enough and mature enough to use voice chat before they begin communicating with internet strangers. ** **
Teach Your Kids About Online Scams
Many times, scammers will offer in-game currency to those who fill out a survey. While this may seem harmless to a child, these fake surveys give the scammer all sorts of information about you, such as full names, home address, bank information, computer passwords, etc. They can use this information to answer security questions to bypass your account’s password.
While it may seem obvious to you to not click a suspicious link or fill out a highly personal survey, take the time to share your knowledge with your child. Tell them there is no such thing as “free money,” V-bucks or otherwise.
Hackers and scammers will try any number of ways to take advantage of your child’s inexperience and obsession with their favorite games. Many of these risks can be avoided by taking the appropriate precautions and teaching your child the dangers of playing online games, using the internet on their own computers, tablets, and smartphone. Most importantly, make sure you take an active approach to your child’s online safety by having regular conversations and check-ins with them.