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Online Gaming May Put You at Risk of Being Hacked

Hackers are able to steal high scores and perhaps even credit card information

If a new video game system has made its way into your home over the holidays, have you considered protecting your or your child's online identities and gaming accomplishments?

One mom said her son's access to his prized online games was compromised, and she spent months trying to resolve it.

Jill Kaplan said her son's Xbox Live account was first taken over by outsiders in February 2016.

That's when 13-year-old Jacob Kaplan discovered he was locked out of his account because of a password reset issue. He lost access to many of the online games he had already purchased with gift cards.

"I noticed that there was something a little bit different about the email address," Jill Kaplan said. "It was off by like a letter or something."

She worked with Xbox Live support staff to resolve the issue. But she said Jacob's account was attacked several more times.

She later found out her son's recovery email address had changed to include a domain from a country outside the United States.

"It just seems crazy to me, because I don't know exactly what they were trying to achieve by it," Jill Kaplan said.

She reached out to NBC Responds after she said several attempts to resolve the issue with Xbox Live's support did not fully resolve the ongoing issue.

"It was like three or four times within the month of October, and then it happened in November where he was completely locked out," Jill Kaplan said.

NBC Responds contacted Microsoft, which operates Xbox Live, and asked if the support staff could take another look at the issue impacting Jacob's access to his gaming account.

Jill Kaplan said a fresh email was created for Jacob's gaming account and everything was resolved within 24 hours. And she said the family received a free month's subscription to Xbox Live.

A spokesperson representing Microsoft said the company worked with the Kaplans to reach an appropriate resolution. The spokesperson also said users can take steps to protect online gaming accounts from outside interference.

"We encourage customers to regularly review their member account security information and ensure it is up-to-date," the spokesperson said. "Customers should exercise caution when receiving emails or links from unknown contacts."

According to online gamer and security professional, Jaku, many of the online attacks are committed by people who want to play games but don't want to pay for them.

He said the attackers can steal users' email addresses and passwords on third-party websites and use them on gaming accounts until they find one that works.

"It's not necessarily the security on the consoles, but it's security outside on third-party sites," Jaku said.

Jaku said parents can help their young gamers increase their online security by choosing a unique password, at least 12 characters long, that is not being used anywhere else.

He also recommends utilizing two-party authentication as another line of defense.

"Anytime something's trying to log in with their account credentials, they have to type in a six-digit code that only their phone has," Jaku said.

Kaplan said no credit card information was compromised, because she makes a point to only use gift cards when purchasing online games for her son.

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