Ah, Pokémon Go. Most of us have heard about it, played it, and (probably for some) been concerned by it.

Since its release in early July, the game has been part of headlines for weeks: from how it caused a resounding buzz in North America, Australia, Europe, and Japan to how they’re blamed for accidents, local crimes, and (in a rare case) even death.

No one has expected to see a mobile gaming app become so popular so fast and affect people the way it has. Indeed, the introduction of Pokémon Go—plus the sharp rise of popularity of augmented reality—has opened a lot of opportunities for cross-industry innovation and growth. Unfortunately, it’s not all fun and games for every player and those caught in the experience of others.

What we have below are surefire ways one can play Pokémon Go safely while avoiding potential threats online:

  • Make sure that the Google or Apple account you’re using to login to Pokémon GO uses a strong password. Furthermore, make sure two-factor authentication for it is enabled. We say this a lot that it has become a general, basic tip for users with an online account. This means that this tip is not just for Pokémon Go accounts but also for any of your accounts.
  • Avoid downloading and installing unofficial versions of the app and/or other apps that claim to be a kind of “helper”. First of all, several unofficial versions of Pokémon Go in the marker are found to be malicious. According to a research by security company ESET, one of the apps they spotted is capable of locking a smartphone’s screen and runs in the background to click ads on adult sites. Other apps that claim to correspond with Pokémon Go, such as those that promise to increase Pokécoins, function more like scareware.
  • Avoid visiting sites that promise free goodies for Pokémon Go. Days after the said game drove players out of their houses for long walks, our researchers have started picking up online scams using the said game as bait. If you’re an avid reader of this blog, you’ll know that scammers normally bank on the current hot trends. Game scams usually promises hacks, cheats, and other freebies. Don’t bother with them as they’re normally survey scams.
  • Never share your credentials with anyone. Yes, that includes your closest family and family members. As we’ve seen in a previous study, kids in the EU are susceptible with this kind of behavior. However, teens and adults might be tempted to do the same, thinking that it’s harmless. What they probably don’t realize is that the credentials one uses to login to their Pokémon Go account could be used to access their other accounts like Facebook or Twitter.
  • Use prepaid or gift cards when buying in-app goodies instead of your debit or credit card. Sometimes, it can’t be avoided to purchase some digital goods that you may need to catch them all. Gift cards can be your safe alternative, if you’re uncomfortable using your bank card for such transactions. Thankfully, both Google and Apple offer these.

A word about selling Pokémon Go accounts

Several reports of Go players selling their accounts on eBay, Craigslist, and even Facebook after they’ve significantly leveled up or simply decided they can’t keep playing because of other priorities has begun appearing in the news recently.

Although this may sound like a logical step forward for gamers after having their fun, American software company Niantic Labs, creators of Pokémon Go, has made it clear in their Terms of Service that they forbid users to “sell, resell, rent, or lease the App or your Account.” Below is the copied version of that section for your reference:

Conduct, General Prohibitions, and Niantic’s Enforcement Rights

You agree that you are responsible for your own conduct and User Content while using
the Services, and for any consequences thereof. Please refer to our Trainer
Guidelines (https://pokemongo.nianticlabs.com/support/guidelines/en) for information
about the kinds of conduct and User Content that are prohibited while using the
Services. By way of example, and not as a limitation, you agree that when using the
Services and Content, you will not:

* use the Services or Content, or any portion thereof, for any commercial purpose or
for the benefit of any third party or in a manner not permitted by these Terms,
including but not limited to (a) gathering in App items or resources for sale
outside the App, (b) performing services in the App in exchange for payment outside
the App, or (c ) sell, resell, rent, or lease the App or your Account;

Although we’re not obligated to monitor access to or use of the Services or Content
or to review or edit any Content, we have the right to do so for the purpose of
operating the Services, to ensure compliance with these Terms, and to comply with
applicable law or other legal requirements. We reserve the right, but are not
obligated, to remove or disable access to any Content, at any time and without
notice, including but not limited to, if we, at our sole discretion, consider
any Content to be objectionable or in violation of these Terms. We have the
right to investigate violations of these Terms or conduct that affects the
Services. We may also consult and cooperate with law enforcement authorities to
prosecute users who violate the law.

Happy gaming and stay safe out there!

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Jovi Umawing