By Frannie Ucciferri, Common Sense MediaUpdated Nov 19, 2018
You were just getting used to your kid's obsession with Fortnite, and now, all you hear about is V-Bucks. V-Bucks, like Robux on Roblox, are Fortnite's in-game currency. Players use them to buy the fun "skins" (characters and outfits) and "emotes" (those hilarious dances like "Flossing" and "Take the L") that kids will say they totally need to make Fortnite even cooler. For the record: You don't need V-Bucks to play Fortnite, and if you do spring for them, they cost real money. Also, online scammers are all over V-Bucks.
Fortnite's incredible popularity among kids has made it an easy target for rip-off artists trying to make some actual bucks while the game is hot. A recent study from online security company ZeroFox discovered more than 4,700 fake Fortnite websites, and the company sent out more than 50,000 security alerts about Fortnite scams in a single month. Kids are particularly vulnerable to requests to turn over personal information, including names and email addresses or even credit card numbers.
"V-Bucks generators" are one of the biggest online Fortnite scams. These are often websites that offer people points for watching or clicking on ads, and these points can supposedly be traded in for free V-Bucks within Fortnite. Not only do these free V-Bucks never appear, these sites often try to collect people's Fortnite usernames and passwords or have them take surveys where they submit personal data under the pretense of verifying that they're human.
Similar to V-Bucks generators, there are also tons of sites that offer free V-Bucks or trick people into buying fake ones. These fake domains mimic developer Epic Games' and Fortnite's real styles, colors, and fonts to fool people. Some even put "Fortnite" in the URL. These sites also collect personal information, but they often go a step further in directly charging a credit card or bank account.
One of the most popular ways that scams are spread is through social media. Fake sites and V-Bucks generators often encourage people to share their links to get more points, which helps expose the scam to more people. Plus, these links often direct users to suspicious apps and malware that can also target your kid's personal information.
Similar to link-sharing scams on social media, there are tons of YouTube videos offering free V-Bucks and more. These fake videos and accounts have millions of views and send gamers to other sketchy sites.
After Epic Games made the controversial decision not to offer their Android app in the Google Play Store, scammers took advantage by putting up fake Fortnite apps. Although they're designed to look like Fortnite, they're really data theft and malware distributors in disguise.
Tell kids to check with you before filling out forms, quizzes, registration pages and the like on a website or app. For older kids, teach them to think carefully about why a site or app might want your data.
PlayStation, Xbox, Epic Games' official website, and the official Fortnite app are the only places to buy V-Bucks. Anything else is a scam.
Talk to kids about scams and how some sites or apps look very similar to the official ones but are designed to trick you into giving up money or information. Domain names and URLs might have only one letter or symbol that's different from the original, so look carefully.
This article was originally published on Common Sense Media.