There were an estimated 1.1 billion online gamers last year, which makes online gaming a massive target for criminals and hackers. If you or your kids enjoy playing video games online like Minecraft or Roblox, you need to prioritize security and privacy, as there are financial and safety risks involved.

For example, last year over 69 million players of Neopets, an online virtual pet game, had their customer data exposed — including usernames, emails, passwords, and personally identifiable information (PII) such as birth date, gender, zip code, and country of residence. This type of data can be used to break into gamer accounts or even commit identity theft.

Keeping yourself and your family safe while you game online is important. Here are some safe gaming tips to help protect your privacy as an online gamer.

Safe Gaming Tips

Make Sure Your Passwords are Strong

Don’t reuse passwords or variations of the same password. Always use unique, strong passwords for every account (ideally using random phrases or letters, numbers, and symbols). That way, if someone cracks your password for one account, they won’t be able to break into your other accounts as well. Consider using a password manager, which can automatically create strong, unique passwords and help keep them safe and encrypted.

Two-factor authentication (2FA) can also add greater security at the point of login. When you enable this feature, you’ll be required to provide a second verification when you log in using your mobile device or email. Turn on 2FA for online games that offer it.

Double-Check Privacy Settings

Online video games and gaming platforms have privacy settings to control who can view your profile, activity, IP address, and other information. You should tweak these settings to your comfort level. For example, you can make your profile as private as possible so other users can’t view your gaming history, location, and more.

Be Careful on Social Media

Oversharing on social media may accidentally expose PII and create risks to your privacy and safety. Be careful about what you share on social media, including information about your favorite games and hobbies.

It’s also a good idea to separate your personal life and gaming life, and not connect your social media accounts to your gaming accounts. You also may want to avoid befriending people you meet in-game using your “real” identity on social media. This helps create a line of separation so people in games can’t find you elsewhere online.

Be Careful During Online Interactions

Online games allow gamers to interact with one another, working together (or against each other) in the game and sharing tips, tricks, and strategies. But some gamers may bully, abuse, or try to scam other players. Be careful with your online interactions and don’t interact with players who make you uncomfortable.

Limit Sharing of Personal Details

Limit the amount of personal information you share online and with other gamers. Use a gamer name that doesn’t give away your name, location, or other details about you. Pick an avatar for your profile instead of your picture.

Don’t share too much identifying information on your gaming profile. The more information you provide, the easier it may be for a criminal to steal your identity, access your online accounts, or attempt to scam you. If a stranger asks you to share personal information online, refuse.

Report and Block Malicious Gamers

Online games involve playing with people from all over and from different age groups, which means you may encounter inappropriate behavior and toxic players. Games often have ways to report abusive players, bullying behavior, and scams. If another player is asking you for personal information, harassing you, or making you uncomfortable, you should mute and/or block them and report them. Look for settings that let you report players in the game menu or online platform you’re using.

Be Skeptical

Criminals may try to run scams and phishing attempts disguised as friend requests, special offers, or invitations to visit websites. Ignore, block, and report players who want you to do anything suspicious, especially if they want to interact outside of the video game.

Download Safely

Downloads may contain malware that is designed to harm you, exploit you, or steal private information from your device or network. Don’t download files such as game mods, cheats, or unofficial software from sources that you can’t trust. Examples of trustworthy websites include official game marketplaces or the game developer’s website.

Make Safe Purchases

Be cautious when you make purchases within a game. Review the game’s privacy policies and security protocol before you enter your payment information. You can use virtual credit card numbers, which are temporary card numbers with a short expiration date, to make online purchases without exposing your physical credit card number. Make sure to review your bank account and credit card statements on a regular basis to look for suspicious activity.

Be Nice

Conduct yourself kindly and responsibly when you play online. Don’t use hurtful or discriminatory language, and make sure you’re adhering to the community’s guidelines. The best gaming communities last a long time by supporting players and encouraging positive interactions.

Bottom Line

Today, protecting your privacy and online safety is crucial. Gaming platforms store vast amounts of data about their players, and the risks of identity theft and data breaches are prevalent across the industry. Protecting yourself online by using safe gaming tips such as unique passwords and custom security settings can help you mitigate the risks and enjoy a better online gaming experience.

Use IdentityIQ identity theft protection services to help enhance your online security. IdentityIQ offers comprehensive identity theft protection, including credit monitoring, identity theft insurance, identity restoration services, and more. They even offer digital security tools such as anti-virus software and virtual private networks (VPNs). With IdentityIQ services, you can keep doing what you love while staying safe online.