CS GO: Trading Security Guide

With Counter-Strikes’ popularity growing rapidly by the day, so too is the number of players that are looking to spend money on the highly popular cosmetic weapon skins. There are hundreds of expensive skins; with some even selling outside of the Steam marketplace for amounts that could buy a small car or more.

Whilst all this is great news for Valve and the future of the game, as it could lead to more sponsorship, interest and tournaments, it also brings out a darker side in the Counter-Strike: Global Offensive player base. Countless people have already fallen victim to malicious individuals, scammers and fake websites. In this article we are going to have a look over some key things to remember and look out for to keep your skins and account as safe as possible.

 

Personal Information

It is highly likely that you will have been told to keep all personal information as safe as possible at some point or other in life, so it may seem common knowledge; however, it is definitely worth repeating. Simply refreshing your mind on the subject and double-checking who you are talking to and what you are talking about is a good start. Knowing information, both obscure and obvious, can be an easy way for things to go wrong, even revealing a tiny bit about your personal life in response to a stranger’s question can be enough for some people to work with.

Of course, this is not to say that you should be completely paranoid or unsociable at all times. Ultimately, it is up to you to decide who you trust, but telling the person that added you just five minutes ago your life story and mother’s maiden name might not be the best of moves.

Information you need to keep private:

Account Name – Especially for Steam, the account name is different to your public profile name and is what you use to log in to the Steam program or website. It should always be kept a secret, there is absolutely no reason for anybody talking to you through normal means (Steam message, Facebook etc.) to require your Steam account name.

Password – This obviously goes without saying, but it is worth noting that even old passwords/information that you know relates to your password or common passphrases should be kept private. Gaining access to just one password can cause a chain reaction, if somebody is able to access your email for example they may be able to reset passwords for other accounts and services.

Personal Details – This can be anything and everything. If you are speaking to somebody you do not know or trust, you should never give out anything that might help them to work out what the answer to security questions might be or similar information that may be used against you.

This is repeated over and over in all aspects of life, but for good reason. Keeping your personal information close to your chest is the easiest first step to take in protecting any account you might own. Remember that no Valve employee will ever contact you and ask for any information through a Steam friend request or message, and people are not always who they say they are online. The Steam website has a large section on account security recommendations that is worth reading through.

Phishing Links

A phishing link is a malicious link that appears to be to a legitimate site, such as a Steam profile, but in fact takes you to a page that looks almost identical but is not the real deal. If you enter your information into one of these sites, it goes straight into the hands of whoever owns the fake imitation. The links are often extremely close to what an official one may look like, so you have to be very wary about clicking without double-checking. Below is an example of a typical message and link to one such fake Steam profile, notice that at a quick glance the link actually looks fairly legitimate, until you realize the spelling of community is not as it first appears.

Common times to be sent a link like this are when selling an item on the Steam marketplace, or after using a third party website such as ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥ to try and trade your weapon skins. Steam actually offers some level of protection when clicking links to external websites, and you should pay attention to it, even if it is just to double-check the spelling of each word in the link it is worth taking the time over. Below is an image of what might pop up after you have clicked on a dodgy link through Steam.

If something doesn’t seem right don’t continue to the webpage you have been linked to. If you decide to go ahead anyway and it asks you to enter any details of any sort or to log in make sure you are completely confident that it is real before doing so. Steam has an informative section of their own about phishing that is worth reading through to familiarize yourself further, especially in regard to different web browser warnings.

Trade Offer Scams

As your collection of skins grows and you acquire some of the more sought after or valuable designs you may find yourself receiving an influx of trade offers. While a lot of these may be fairly harmless offers of items of slightly less value than your own from people seeking out small upgrades, there is the potential for more obvious malicious intent.

Other offers may have a lot of items from a different game, coupons from Steam or even the miscellaneous emoticons and backgrounds that are tradable. It is hard to know the value of these items compared to your skins, and offers of this type should be treated with extreme caution. Some older items from games may not have a huge amount available on the market and the prices may seem high, it is worth checking the history of the item to see what it really sells for rather than just relying on what the ones you can see are listed for.

One of the most common forms of trade offer scam involves somebody claiming to want a lot of low value items in return for something worth more than them. Sounds okay so far, however if you double-check the list of low value items that they are requesting, you may be surprised to find one of your higher value skins hiding among them. They even go as far as trying to imply that they are helping out by clearing out some cheap skins. The high value item hidden among them is circled in red.

Steam has a webpage that gives some further advice on trading and what to look out for, it might be a good idea to familiarize yourself with it. If you find yourself receiving fake trade offers of any kind, it is worth reporting the person that has sent it to you rather than simply declining the offer or blocking them. This can be completed simply and quickly by clicking the flag icon in the response to trade offer window, typing a few lines to explain and sending it off.

Falling Victim and Losing Your Skins

If you have fallen victim to a scam of any sort, it is worth contacting valve about it through their support pages and submitting a ticket. You will be asked to create a support account and explain the situation through a ticket, then wait for a reply. This does mainly apply to accounts that have been stolen or hacked rather than trade offer related scams however. Completing a trade offer is technically permanent and irreversible, so be very careful about what you are accepting for your skins, checking and double-checking that the value is acceptable to you. Steams policy on trading is fairly strict and is pictured below.

At the end of the day, it is essentially up to you to protect your account and items as best you can. Good general computer security can help too and is always advised, with some antivirus and anti-malware programs even offering a certain level of web protection alongside the general defense and removal of viruses. These do not make you immune though, common sense and being extremely careful with who you talk to, trade with and share information with are the best ways to keep those precious skins safe. Hopefully, reading this guide will shed some light on some of the most common ways that people lose their skins, providing some idea of what to look out for and what to avoid in order to keep your hard-earned skins safe.

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