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What is a trade scam?

A scam is when a Steam user convinces another user to make a deal (trade, gift or market transaction) under false pretenses. Scams usually involve deception in order to convince a user that they are getting a good or fair deal when in fact they are not.

For more information on scams please read below, view the Recommended Trading Practices article and the Steam Item Restoration Policy.

What are the best ways to avoid getting scammed?

  • Ignore pressure and do not rush the trade. A common tactic by scammers is to force you to trade quickly so they can change items/gifts in the trade without you noticing.
  • Ignore pressure to trust the other user. If you are trading with a user who insists that you trust them, they are probably attempting to scam you. Please note that +Rep comments can be generated easily by malicious groups.
  • Mouse over every item to ensure that the item/gift properties are correct. Information about the item/gift will be stated here including the quality, name, description and any effects.
  • Pay attention to the trade log while making the trade. All changes, additions, removals and actions will be recorded in this box. You may also use it to communicate with the trader.
  • Do not trade items outside of the trade window. If another user requests that you do, they will likely scam you. Always insist to trade within the trade window in Steam. Wallet credit and money cannot be traded or added to the trade window.
  • Ensure that you are trading with the correct user. Scammers may try to impersonate your friends and other trusted traders. It is your responsibility to know who you are trading with.
Tip: Consider using the Nickname feature to ensure you are trading with the correct user.

 

What trades should I avoid?

Do not trade for anything that cannot be added into the trade window within Steam. The most common examples of these scenarios are the following:

  • Trading items/gifts for money outside of the Steam Community market. You cannot add Wallet credit, PayPal, gift cards or any form of money into the trade window.
  • Trading items/gifts for CD Keys. You cannot add a CD Key into the trade window. CD Keys that are offered can be for a different game, fake, used or region restricted.
  • Trading items/gifts for nothing in return in the first trade and expecting to get an item or gift in a later trade. There is no reason to not trade everything in one trade. You may add unlimited items/gifts to a single trade. A common example of this is using a middleman to facilitate a one sided trade.

For more information on trading please read the Steam Trading FAQ, Recommended Trading Practices, and the Steam Item Restoration Policy articles.

 

What specific scams should I be aware of?

 

Item Switching

Item Switch or “Quick Switch”

A user tells you they will trade you a specific item, and the item they put in the trade box looks like the item, but isn’t as valuable as the original offer.

Tip: Double check the contents of all trades before accepting.

 

CS:GO Quality Switch

A user offers you a specific quality CS:GO item, but the item in the trade box is of a lower quality. Often the item switch is made in a counter-offer.

Tip: Double check the contents of all trades before accepting and pay special attention to the item quality.

 

Hidden Item

A user offers a trade that includes a lot of your low value items (cards, crates, etc.), but also includes a high value item hidden somewhere in the middle.

Tip: Double check the contents of all trades before accepting.

 

Begging/Spamming

A user spams trade offers requesting high value items for nothing or little in return in hopes that you mis-click and accept the offer.

Tip: Decline all offers that don't appear to be a fair trade, even if the items requested are of low value.

 

Please click here to learn how to report a scammer.

 

"You Trade First”/ Untradable Items

Untradeable Game or Items (“trade me first”, “send as gift”)

A user attempts to convince you that in order to get an item from them, you must complete a portion of the trade outside of the Steam trade window.

Tip: Only participate in trades that can be completed entirely in a single trading window.

 

Forward Confirmation Email

A user convinces you to forward your confirmation email to their email address. They then confirm the trade using the link in the message.

Tip: Do not forward trade confirmation email or links and never provide additional information to another user – there’s no need.

 

Money For Items

A user offers to send you money in the form of PayPal, PaySafeCard, Steam Wallet codes, etc. The scammer usually sends you a fake payment code after the trade is completed.

Tip: Only participate in trades that can be completed entirely in a single trading window.

 

CD Key For Items

A user offers to send you a game’s CD Key in exchange for your items. The scammer usually sends you a fake CD Key after the trade is completed.

Tip: Only participate in trades that can be completed entirely in a single trading window.

 

Item Duplication

A user offers to duplicate your items, but first you have to trade away your items. After receiving your items, the user blocks your messages and keeps your items.

Tip: Avoid trading your items to people making false promises (items cannot be duplicated by Steam users and attempting to duplicate an item could get your Steam account banned).

 

Gambling Bot Trade Offer

A fake gambling bot tells you that you have won an item jackpot, but in order to receive the items, you must first accept their trade offer. After receiving your items, the user blocks your messages and keeps your items.

Tip: Never trade an item away when prompted by another user or bot if you cannot verify their claim.

 

Please click here to learn how to report a scammer.

 

Middleman (Spoofing)/Verification Scams

Important: If you are performing a trade that sits within Steam’s Trading Guidelines there is no need for a middleman. Any time you choose to trust any other user with one of your items, you are allowing them the opportunity to scam you.

 

Trade your item to your friend for verification

A user wants you to trade an item to a known friend for verification. The user will give a made-up excuse to convince you to do this, such as needing to make sure the item is not a duplicate or to ensure the item is not bugged. The user will then spoof (impersonate) your account and requests that your friend return the item.

Tip: Never trade an item to another user at someone’s request, especially if you are negotiating a trade.

 

Fake middleman/Middleman impersonators

A user request to use a middleman to make a trade and a fake middleman (impersonating a known middleman) takes the items.

Tip: Avoid using a middleman and only participate in trades that can be completed entirely in a single trading window (this negates needing a middleman).

 

Verify Item (Fake Middleman)

A user requests to use a middleman to verify the quality of an item or to ensure the item is not a duplicate. After you trade the item to the middleman, the item is not returned.

Tip: Avoid using a middleman and never trade an item away when prompted by another user or bot.

 

Valve/Steam/Trading Bot Spoofing (verify item)

A user impersonating a trading website bot or Valve/ Steam representative requests that you trade your items to so that they can verify that the items are not duplicates. The message from this user usually includes a threat to ban your account if you do not comply.

Tip: A Valve/Steam employee would never request an item in a trade, and trading bots, groups, and websites have no authority or input in the Steam economy. Never trade an item away when prompted by another user or bot.

 

Please click here to learn how to report a scammer.

 

Market Scams

Fund transfer via market

A user offers to send you Steam Wallet funds by buying one of your low value items at a high price in the market. Most of these offers are done using fraudulent funds.

Tip: Only participate in trades that can be completed entirely in a single trading window. Avoid all offers of Steam Wallet funds through the Steam market or you may inadvertently become involved in payment fraud.

 

Scarce Item

A user will offer you a trade but only if you trade away a “scarce” item that you will need to purchase on the market. The user will usually give you a reason as to why they cannot do it themselves (i.e. the seller will not trade it or chat with them). The item was listed by the scammer using an alternate account at well above its real value.

Tip: Only participate in trades that can be completed entirely in a single trading window, and never complete a market purchase at the request of another user.

 

(Falsely) High Valued Item

A user tells you that an item from a game that you probably don’t play or know anything about is worth a lot of money and offers it to you in exchange for some of your items. The user provides a link to the Steam Community Market that shows a similar item worth a good amount of money. However, the item that the user is offering you is worth very little.

Tip: Avoid trading for items associated with games that you do not play and be cautious when another user makes a claim about the value of an unfamiliar item.

 

Please click here to learn how to report a scammer.

 

Malware

Important: Although malware is technically a tool used to hijack Steam accounts, we have included the malicious ways hijackers will attempt to install malware on to your computer. Like scammers, hijackers will attempt to deceive you in order to get you to comply with their requests.

 

Payment Receipt (Malware)

A user includes a fake payment receipt that installs malware on to your computer after opening it.

Tip: Never follow unknown links or install software at the request of another user, and only participate in trades that can be completed entirely in a single trading window.

 

Voice Comm Software / Join Our Tournament Team (Malware)

A user convinces you to install malware hidden in a voice communication, anti-cheat, or other type of software by claiming that they need you to install it so that you can play in a tournament.

Tip: Never follow unknown links or install software at the request of another user.

 

Desktop Control Software (TeamViewer, Go2Meeting, or other similar software) (Malware)

A user convinces you to install normally legitimate desktop sharing software or purpose built malware and uses it to take full control of your computer.

Tip: Never follow unknown links or install software at the request of another user.

 

Steam Guard (Malware)

A user requests that you verify an item or your account by installing a Steam Guard update and takes full control of your computer.

Tip: Never follow unknown links or install software at the request of another user..

 

Fake Steam Website (Malware)

A user wants to trade with you or wants you to be on their competitive team and sends you a link to a website that looks just like Steam. After you log in (providing the hijacker with your login name and password), you are either prompted to install malware disguised as a Steam update or malware is automatically installed onto your computer.

Tip: Never follow unknown links or install software at the request of another user.

 

Please click here to learn how to report a scammer.

 

What’s the difference between a scam and a hijack?

A scam is when a user deceives another user into willingly (at the time) completing a trade, market transaction, or sending a gift. After the trade is completed, the person who was scammed either doesn’t receive what was promised, or the items involved are not what was agreed upon.

A hijacking is when an account or a computer is taken over by someone else without the account owner’s permission. This is often done with malware or a virus. In some cases the hijacker will convince a user to hand over their login information by providing a fake Steam or a third-party trading site. Hijackers most commonly steal accounts to gain items or games, and sometimes commit fraud. Hijackers often use stolen accounts to commit more hijackings. In these cases, we lock the account until the rightful owner contacts us about the hijacking.

For more information on hijacked accounts, please see the Reclaiming a Stolen Steam Account article and the Steam Item Restoration Policy.

What do I do if I was scammed?

If you were scammed, please use the Report feature built into Steam:

  • Go to the profile of the offending user
  • Click the 'More' drop-down located at the top right of the page
  • Choose "Report Violation"
  • Select the violation (example, "Attempted Trade Scam") and hit "Submit Report"

 

What happens to scammers?

If evidence exists that the Steam user is a scammer, Steam Support will ban the account from using the Steam Community, including Trading and using the Steam Market. The length of the ban is dependent on the severity and quantity of the scams. In some cases, scammers will be banned permanently. If a scammer has multiple accounts, all of their accounts may be subject to the ban as well.

In some cases, scammers will hijack an account and use it to commit scams, fraud or more hijackings. In these cases, we lock the account until the rightful owner contacts us about the hijacking.

Why will Steam not return items that were scammed?

Our community assigns an item a value that is at least partially determined by that item's scarcity. If more copies of the item are added to the economy through inventory rollbacks, the value of every other instance of that item would be reduced.

We sympathize with people who fall victim to scams, but we provide enough information on our website and within our trading system to help users make good trading decisions. All trade scams can be avoided.

What is a trade ban?

A trade ban prevents a Steam account from using the Steam Community, including trading and using the Steam Market. A trade ban can only be applied by a Steam employee. Trade bans are mainly associated with accounts that commit scams.

What is trade probation?

Upon receiving a trade ban the offending account gets placed into probation as well. Probationary status allows other users to determine if a user has committed scams in the past so they can make better decisions about whether or not they want to trade with previous scammers. Probationary status does not prevent users from trading.

Why won’t Steam Support provide information on why an account was trade banned or locked?

By limiting the provided data, Steam Support prevents malicious users from learning how to avoid getting caught in the future. Steam Support relies on several data points to arrive at a decision to ban or lock an account. Users intent on committing malicious activity, most often done to other users, are constantly trying to gain this data to use in future scams, fraud and hijackings.

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