If you’re like the almost 10 million people who play Pokémon Go daily, you may have received an email warning you that the app is no longer free. The email states: “due to the overwhelming response to our new Pokémon GO app and the need for more powerful servers we can no longer afford to keep your account as free.”
Players are then instructed to agree to pay a monthly fee for the “full version” or their accounts will be frozen.
Don’t believe the hype. The email is a phishing scam that is aimed at stealing players passwords. According to the BBB, the log-in form for the so-called “full version” of the app isn’t run by an official app store or Niantic Labs, the San Francisco based company that developed the game. Instead, it’s on a third party site. Bottom line: Niantic Labs confirmed that Pokémon Go is still free.
Is it a real email or a phishing scam? Protect yourself by:
- Downloading from trusted sources. Apps should only be downloaded from authorized dealers rather than from third-party app sources.
- Being wary of unexpected emails that contain links or attachments. Do not click on links or open files in unfamiliar emails. If you must click, at least check the URL before you do. Hover your mouse over the top of the URL, and you should see the actual hyperlinked address. If the hyperlinked address is different from the address that is displayed, the message is probably fraudulent or malicious.
- Checking the reply email address. One easy way to spot an email scam is to look at the reply email. The address should be on a company domain, such as email@example.com.
- Being skeptical. Just because an email looks real, doesn’t mean it is. Scammers can fake anything from a company logo to the “Sent” email address.Be cautious of emails that contain poor spelling and grammar or those that ask for personal information. Many large companies have email addresses to which you can send emails that you suspect may be phishing scams. For example, if you send a suspicious email that appears to be from PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org, the company will check it and confirm whether it was sent by PayPal.
- Being wary of unrealistic threats. For example, if an email from your bank threatens to close your account if you do not provide certain information, it is most likely a phishing scam. Call the company to confirm before taking any action.