Valve employees will never ask you to trade your items to them; this includes users who claim to work for Steam Support.
Users claiming to be a Valve employee, accounts asking to verify your items, and users who send you a message which insist you need to trade your items to them for investigation or security reasons should immediately be reported for trade scams.
What is a trade scam?
A trade 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 and view our 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.
What kind of trades should I avoid?
Do not trade for anything that cannot be added into the Steam trading window. The most common examples of these types of trades include:
- 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, please see our Steam Trading FAQ and Recommended Trading Practices articles.
What specific scams should I be aware of?
Users should always double check the contents of a proposed trade before accepting, even if that means inspecting each item in a multiple-item trade. Be sure to verify the item and its quality before confirming any trade.
There are a number of common scams users may attempt to deceive you out of your items:
- Item switching or quick switching - 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.
- CS:GO quality switch - A user offers you a specific quality CS:GO item (Factory New), but the item in the trade box is of a lower quality (Field-Tested). Often the item switch is made in a counter-offer.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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. Do not forward trade confirmation emails or links and do not provide additional information to another user asking for information used for your account.
- Money For Items - A user offers to send you money in the form of PayPal, PaySafeCard, Steam Wallet codes, Steam Digital Gift Cards, etc. The scammer usually sends you a fake payment code after the trade is completed. In the case of Steam Digital Gift Cards, the scammer may even appear to pay you first, but be planning to charge the Digital Gift Card back later or buy the gift card with a fraudulent credit card.
- CD keys for items - A user offers to send you a Wallet Credit code or a game's CD Key in exchange for your items. The scammer usually sends you a fake CD Key after the trade is completed.
- Users offering 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.
- Users acting as trade bots - A user impersonating a trade bot(s) tells you that you have to trade them some items. After you've accepted the trade and sent the user the items, they block you on Steam and keep your items.
- Middleman trades - 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.
- Verification accounts - A user wants you to trade an item 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. These users will then keep your item(s) and block you, getting away with the items.
- Fund transfer via the Steam 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.
- 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.
- Offering fraudulent items for resale - Malicious users will sometimes acquire unusual items from the Steam Market using fraudulent credit cards and then attempt to trade them to you for more well known items. Watch out for claims that they will overpay or that you can quicksell the items for an immediate profit. These users will sometimes say they need tradeable keys or other tradeable items as an excuse for the unusual trade.
What is 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.
Additional information about hijacked accounts can be found in our Reclaiming a Stolen Steam Account article.
How do I report a scammer?
If you've been scammed or another user has attempted to scam you, please use the Report feature built into Steam. This is the best way to bring scammers to our attention so we may take action:
- 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'
If a user you've reported for scamming has had action taken on their account, you'll be notified with a message in Steam.
What action is taken when a scammer is found?
If evidence exists that a Steam user is scamming, 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 rare cases, scammers will hijack an account and use it to commit scams, fraud, or other hijackings. In these cases, we lock the account until the rightful owner contacts us and we will take appropriate action.
Why doesn't Steam return scammed items?
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. For more information on this, please see this post on our store blog.
Upon receiving a trade ban, the offending account also gets placed into trade 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 users who have scammed. Please note, 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.