Microsoft has seen a recent uptick in the number of Xbox Live accounts being hacked. The accounts have all been drained of their Microsoft points and many victims have seen large purchases of Microsoft points on the methods of payment associated with their accounts. But your account can be safeguarded from giving the hackers access to your bank or credit card accounts with a few easy (though time-consuming) precautions.
The strangest aspect of these hacks has been that once the rightful owner recovers his account information he notices that he has gained a few achievements in a FIFA game. It appears that the hackers are using FIFA to funnel the Microsoft points out of these accounts or purchase FIFA-related content. Microsoft, in a written statement, said, “We do not have any evidence the Xbox LIVE service has been compromised.” Although they acknowledge that, “a limited number of members have contacted us regarding unauthorized access to their accounts by outside individuals.”
Microsoft has been shutting down accounts that have been hacked for up to 30 days to investigate the problem and many account owners are given a month of free Xbox Live. At the moment, the most appropriate safety measure you can take is to change your account password and remove all methods of payment from anyour Xbox Live account. This would insure that if your account is hacked, the hacker would only have access to your existing Microsoft points and not your payment methods.
Removing your payment methods can either be done at Xbox.com or on your console in your profile section. The largest difficulty is that if you bought your membership with a credit or debit card Microsoft requires you to call technical support to remove that method of payment. Last week when I learned of this situation I was on the phone with Microsoft for close to an hour. The Microsoft representative said my call was longer than most, but acknowledged that a call will usually take 30 minutes. I would highly recommend this course of action regardless of the inconvenience so that you would only have to deal with Microsoft.
Speculation into the the dramatic increase in such cases has been varied. Most users who suffered from this exploit said they had not been doing anything nefarious or throwing their account information around. Gamers and gaming sites have theorized that the EA servers may have been hacked and had account information stolen from them such as Xbox Live information and EA account information. This theory has received the most attention since the recent uptick in cases coincides with the incredible popularity of EA’s Battlefield 3 beta. The fact that these hackers are utilizing FIFA, another EA game would simply be a coincidence. EA was contacted for this story in the hopes that they could shed some light on the credibility of this theory, but we received no response.
For now, change your password and remove your payment methods and hope nobody takes an interest in the meager amount of Microsoft points you have in your account.