House Party seemed to be the perfect lockdown app, a way to mingle with your friends, play games, and have a party in the safety of your own home. Made by Epic Games (the company behind Fornite), it was the quarantine app we all needed. But is it safe amid growing concerns for house party fraud?
We’ve since seen on social media people advising to delete the popular app House Party as their banks have advised them it is responsible for fraud.
Large numbers of users on Social Media are reporting that they’ve had Spotify, PayPal and bank accounts hacked after downloading the app.
Working in Fraud prevention in the past, I can share some insider knowledge on how processes work and how likely it has been for house party fraud.
Is Houseparty responsible for credit card Fraud?
So I’ve seen this on social media, where a bank representative has advised someone to delete the app as it has been the reason for fraud and has affected staff members. This is clearly incorrect for two reasons.
- Credit card companies use software to find patterns in card spend to identify the possible point of compromise on fraudulent spend. Once identified, it enables the companies to contact all other cards that visited the same merchant to stop more spend. The small teams that do this crucial work are not on the phones and do not share this information with the teams that speak to customers. It is actually gross misconduct to share the retailer that has been hacked, as can be damaging to their brand.
- Houseparty does not require a credit card to take a test charge, so it’s impossible to be compromised in this way.
So while Houseparty themselves are claiming a smear campaign, it is more likely guesswork leading to misinformation by a rep. And it’s just an incorrect assumption based on the facts millions have downloaded so increases the chance the affected person has too. If those affected by fraud had a commonality where they all downloaded Houseparty, it would be easy to assume this was the cause. But it’s like saying eating food is also the reason because there is also that correlation.
It’s not to say the app is fully safe, particularly for kids, just that it’s highly unlikely to be the reason for credit card fraud. There would be a risk by using the same password/email combination as other sites. Also, any app that integrates with other social media gives them access to details on there, but usually, they just want access to your contacts to get as many people as possible on the app.
Has Houseparty been hacked?
This is more likely to be the reason for house party fraud, but again unlikely. For this to happen someone would have to hack into the House Party servers and retrieve all emails and passwords, which should be encrypted and secured. This email/password combination would have to be the same Paypal to enable them to log in and transfer money.
But it’s important to point out two things. Firstly Paypal has systems that pick up unusual log-in patterns, which push security checks to keep your account safe.
Secondly that the volume of people potentially affected would mean this would have to be automated due to the sheer volume of work needed. And Paypal would have a system to identify bot behaviour and again push additional security checks.
Also, it is a modern trait to cater to the lazy. This means most apps these days have quick link access to other social media channels. Modern technology is ever-improving on cross-linking information of names, emails and phone numbers together. Apps like this feed into this and make the data valuable.
The EU driven Payment Service Directive means banks have to credit all un-recognised charges within 24 hours, but it can be a scary moment seeing all your money gone. I always advise using credit cards for online purchases and not your debit card. Firstly you get cover under the consumer credit act, but also any fraud will go on your credit card and not instantly out your bank account.
Technology is an amazing thing, take Virtual Reality in Education for example which can open up the world to children. It is also dangerous with people out there willing to exploit for personal gain. You don’t need to be afraid, just wary. In this instance, it’s unlikely there was house party fraud, but it doesn’t mean that the app is safe or kids to use.