has taken the gaming world by storm. Home to nearly 80 million users, the battle royale game
has become one of the most popular video games on Earth. Since its 2017 launch, Fortnite
has transformed into a worldwide gaming phenomenon attracting players of all ages and video-gaming backgrounds. From celebrity musicians to top-tier athletes, the Fortnite
craze has made its rounds from suburban basements to Hollywood screens.
Unfortunately, with the astounding popularity Fortnite has gathered, scammers are hot on the trail leading to young and naive players. Identity theft, credit card fraud, and the rampant spread of malware are among the many consequences Fortnite scams may lead to. While these scams are masked with alluring “Free V-Bucks” promises, parents and players should be vigilant online.
Practicing safe gaming and browsing can be difficult when you don’t know what red flags to look out for. We’ll walk you through the many types of dangerous Fortnite scams out there, and how to protect yourself against them.
What are V-Bucks and how do scams happen on Fortnite?
One of the biggest draws Epic Games developers has maintained since the launch of Fortnite
is offering the game completely free of charge. All one needs to get their game on is a compatible device
. Where Epic Games makes their money is with V-Bucks.
V-Bucks function as in-game currency that allows players to purchase Fortnite skins, outfits, emotes, battle passes, and more. The more V-Bucks a player has, the more impressive features they can unlock. The catch is that V-Bucks cost real money. Currently, on Microsoft.com you can purchase 1,000 V-Bucks for $9.99.
Within the game, 1,000 V-Bucks is pocket change, barely allowing you to purchase an outfit. Much like real money, once those V-Bucks are spent, passionate players will need an account balance re-up.
Online video games have become increasingly popular, and Fortnite is no exception to this trend. Dependent on an internet connection, Fortnite players are always a click away from their web browser. A quick “how to get free V-Bucks” query into Google may lead to an online Fortnite community bustling with user-to-user advice forums, but will more likely lead to scam hotspots waiting for unsuspecting players to click the bait.
The good news is that Fortnite scams don’t exist within the actual Fortnite-sphere. The real dangers lie outside the game, preying on those who look to fake domains, YouTube videos, and other harmful resources disguised as a free leg-up.
Types of Fortnite scams to look out for
Despite Epic Games’ efforts in warning against scam sites offering free or discounted V-Bucks, users still fall victim to the temptation brought on by the many promises scammers offer.
Online cyber criminals have made an estimated $1 million in revenue through tricking naive Fortnite fans into clicking malicious advertisements or plugging confidential information into compromised sites .
Keep a keen eye out for these common Fortnite scams targeting you or your video-gaming child.
1. YouTube video plugs
Stretching beyond gameplay and word of mouth, Fortnite
has also made a name for itself within the YouTube community. From emote dance challenges to gameplay streaming
, YouTube has become an entertainment center for Fortnite
fans who crave the action without the hard work.
Typing “free V-Bucks” into YouTube’s search bar queues up a sprawling list of videos that link to third-party sites in their descriptions. Promising workaround methods that will score users free V-Bucks, these videos are approved by YouTube for public posting, so most people believe them to be legitimate.
Upon clicking on the suggested third-party website, you will likely be asked to input a code from your game account, in exchange for a complete sign-up process. This could happen on any Fortnite compatible device, so don’t make the mistake of thinking one platform is more harm-proof than another.
By entering your unique account code into the third-party website, you could be unknowingly handing the keys to your account’s payment information to a con-artist.
YouTube-plugged third-party sites are also ad-havens where popups and viruses thrive and flourish. Tempting as they may be, clicking on these advertisements may lead to malicious downloads that could install spyware, malware, or phishing attempts onto your device's hardware.
2. V-Bucks generators
V-Bucks generators are among the most common and largely used Fortnite scams that promise to reward users who watch videos and click on ads for points. Earned points can then be traded in for “free” V-Bucks within Fortnite. The catch is that those “free” V-Bucks never seem to make their way into your account. So, what’s the deal?
V-Buck generators are hosted on sites that mimic the same high-quality graphics and functionality as Fortnite itself. Designed to lure players into sharing personal information, V-Buck generators aim to gain access into your account for seamless identity theft.
There is no such thing as a legitimate third-party V-Bucks generator, no matter how convincing or trustworthy they may seem.
3. Fake apps
After Epic Games made the controversial decision not to offer their Android Fortnite app in the Google Play Store, the digital store was flooded with fake Fortnite apps. Scammers taking advantage of the decision uploaded their disguised data theft and malware programs as Fortnite apps, waiting for unsuspecting users to download their app and input their personal information.
In some cases, downloading a fake app is enough to invite malware onto your devices’ hardware. Always keep in mind that Epic Games has never made the official Fortnite app available on Google’s Play Store, so all Fortnite imitation apps should be handled with extreme caution.
4. Fake web domains
Though the internet can be a fantastic resource for finding information and learning the ropes of the game, Fortnite scammers looking to mislead innocent players are always on the prowl for their next victim. One of the easiest ways they lure players in is with fake domains that perfectly mimic Epic Games and Fortnite’s color scheme, font use, and image quality.
These fake websites will request personal information such as Fortnite login credentials or credit card information in exchange for access into the site or gameplay perks like free skins or free V-Bucks. These sites are masters of disguise, even in their site names. Many will even carry “Fortnite” in their URL. Be on the lookout for “Fortnite” sites that aren't prefaced with EpicGames.com.
5. Online “friends” who offer “help”
Generally speaking, children are extremely trusting without considering the consequences of their actions. Since Fortnite
is an online multi-player game
, users can chat with other players about strategy or their how their day went. For parents, your child being exposed to a world of faceless strangers should be as frightening as it sounds, especially when you realize how easily kids can get roped into scams.
Any user offering free skins should raise an immediate red flag. The user will then request login credentials so they can transfer over the skins but will take over the account and log you out for good.
Once the scammer has access to your account, they will also have access to the credit card information attached to your account.
And if you happened to use the same password
for your primary email and Fortnite
account, the scammer could compromise your email account too.
How can I protect against Fortnite scams?
Fortnite has a certain addictive element to it that keeps players glued to their screen and entranced for hours. The desire for more added features, exclusive skins, and fancy perks is constant, especially when players find themselves challenging players with more advanced cosmetic upgrades.
It’s this very reason that players are constantly searching for a non-paying way to get free V-Bucks. Protect your child or yourself from rampant Fortnite scams by using these web-safety tips.
1. Educate your kids
Kids don’t think of the internet as a dangerous place and lack a comprehensive understanding of what cyber criminals are and what they’re after. Have a sit-down chat with your child and explain the darker side of the internet and how to avoid it. Advise them to reach out to you if they are ever confused about the legitimacy of a webpage or unsure if they should fill out personal information credentials.
If your Fortnite fan is a teenager, be sure to encourage them to think carefully about why a website may want access to personal data. Careful thinking and calculated action will significantly reduce online risk factors.
2. Stick to official platforms for payment
Planning on making a Fortnite purchase, but nervous to type your credit card information into any ol’ site? Your hesitation is understandable. Xbox.com, Playstation.com, EpicGames.com, and all official Fortnite apps are the only online sources that allow you to purchase V-Bucks. All the others are scams.
Bookmark these sites on your web browser for easy access. Having these official sites handy will remove Google searching from the equation and ensure your purchases are always and only through legitimate official sites.
3. Monitor credit card statements
Keeping a close eye on your credit card statements can be a lot when you depend on that plastic card for everyday purchases. But if your child is an avid Fortnite player who could fall victim to a scam, it’s in your best interest to monitor the linked card transactions to ensure all charges are intentional.
A clever hacker could make in-game purchases that rack up a nasty bill, and since the purchases were made through your son or daughter’s Fortnite account, they won’t be flagged as fraudulent by your bank. Be sure to review your monthly statements carefully to ensure no one else is handling your money but you.
4. Keep email addresses private
One of the easiest ways to become a victim to a potential phishing scam is by providing your email to a cyber criminal. Once a crook has a hold of your email, they will send messages to your inbox that look exactly like official Fortnite emails. Within these emails, the attached links will ask for login credentials, effectively ripping off your password and compromising your account in the process.
Be sure your child isn’t giving out any email addresses while playing, and teach them that online “friends” asking for personal data should not be trusted or talked to.
5. Use two-factor authentication
One of the best features Fortnite offers to protect against credit card theft is two-factor authentication. Designed to add an extra layer of security before confirming a credit card purchase, two-factor authentication also lets parents have the last say on an in-game purchase.
In order to set up two-factor authentication:
1. Go to “Account Settings” in your Fortnite account
2. Click the “Password & Security” tab
3. Scroll to the bottom of the tab
4. Press “Enable Two-Factor Sign In”
5. You will have the option to enable an authenticator app or enable email verification
By using something you have and something you know as defense mechanisms against data-hungry hackers, two-factor authentication
better protects you and your online presence.
6. Avoid fake offers
If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. From a consumer perspective, cyber crime starts with allure. Free skins, emotes, and battle passes sound exciting, and that may be enough to get you trapped in a hacker’s web.
Third-party sites offering V-Bucks deals will always lead to some sort of scam since there is no such thing as free V-Bucks. These fraudulent offers link to sites that simply want your login credentials and credit card information so they can make a quick buck. Steer clear of any sites offering free or discounted Fortnite features.
There are no signs of stopping on Fortnite’s popularity train, so staying ahead of the trend will protect you and your kids from malicious online scammers. At the end of the day, Fortnite is about having fun. Making naive web surfing mistakes in search of free V-Bucks or exclusive skins could turn a positive playing experience into a negative one. Cautious browsing practices and informed online decision making will keep you, your child, and your personal data safe from falling into the wrong hands.
About the Author: Tulie Finley-Moise is a contributing writer for HP® Tech Takes. Tulie is a digital content creation specialist based in San Diego, California with a passion for the latest tech and digital media news.