British Bank Blocks Blizzard Bucks

February 18, 2008 -
World of Warcraft subscribers will have difficulty paying their monthly game fees if their credit card was issued by U.K. bank Halifax.

The Register reports that the bank is blocking payments to Blizzard due to an uptick in the use of stolen credit card numbers to pay for WoW accounts. The Register quotes from a statement issued by Halifax:
We have seen a significant number of fraudulent transactions through Blizzard's gaming sites. We have, therefore, blocked the majority of Visa/Mastercard transactions we receive from there in order to combat this.

We do not believe the fraud is anything to do with Blizzard themselves, their sites or the integrity of their billing systems, rather it is site users utilising stolen credit card details to pay for subscriptions.

So, what's, say, an up-and-coming level-41 gnome mage (like GP's current character) to do? Halifax says it will make special arrangements to keep players in the game:
If a customer does want to subscribe to a game site operated by Blizzard, using a Halifax or Bank of Scotland credit card, we can arrange for the payments to be processed for them if they contact us.


Good on them for not taking the easy route and just cutting it off entirely. However simply calling the card holder about the charge would indeed be better


Tony, The reg is pretty good at spotting things like this. They were the first to alert people about the tiscali/Pipex merger and the subsequent issues that were arising there for older Pipex members.

Seems a lot of companies are penny pinchers in that respect. However MMOs have been getting warnings about this kind of issue for a while now. As someone pointed out about Runescape, it forced the company behind that game to change most of their underlying game to prevent card fraud... How successful that will be we won't know for a while yet...

Blizzard are getting hit with it now, who knows which one will be next. It's hard enough to verify that a card belongs to someone, if you're not face to face with the person.. Most people don't report their cards as stolen until days after the fact when they get their balances, by then it's too late..

"If a customer does want to subscribe to a game site operated by Blizzard, using a Halifax or Bank of Scotland credit card, we can arrange for the payments to be processed for them if they contact us."

Bit of a hassle for legit players, but still an apparent necessary decision. It's good of them to say it isn't Blizzard's fault.

So if anyone wants to be ticked, get ticked at the criminals, not the bank.

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Nightwng2000 NW2K Software Nightwng2000 is now admin to the group "Parents For Education, Not Legislation" on MySpace as

And why can't the bank just call them up and ask if the charge is legit? I get those calls all the time when I do a little traveling.

I guess considering the number of WoW players (though I don't know how many use these banks for their payments) it's less hassle for the bank to block everyone and let each customer back on on a case-by-case basis. Kinda like Blizz's own stance on ToS violations, reactive rather than proactive.

I just hope my bank doesn't follow suit

@CyberSkull: The reason is it's not only Blizzard and Halifax having problems with stolen credit card numbers, it's all MMO's and has to do with gold/credit/ISK/etc farmers. SOE has stated they have loads of trouble with chargebacks/stolen credit cards and I'm sure Blizzard and SOE are not the only ones having the problems.

The majority of the problems are due to the credit farming industry. It's been documented a few times now. From what I've read a majority of these are coming from China, though I'm sure it's from more places than that. Unfortunately nothing any MMO company has done seems to be able to stop these thieves and their horrible practices.

Many people think it's ok to buy things from these gold sellers because they want the good items now or they don't have the time to spend in game to get them (ie casual players), or possible due to the fequency of gold selling spam in many MMO's, some people think it's a condoned practice. Yes, very few actually read the EULA at the beginning of any game, so they just may not know it's wrong. The problem is, if you buy from these people, theres been many documented occurences of them stealing your credit card details and using them for these very purposes the article talks about.

I just wish JT would go after these people instead of the game makers and at least he would bring more attention to the issue, be it good or bad.

@ Cyberskull and kurisu7885.

I thin the reason why they won't just phone the customers is due to probably the large amount of customes that would be using WOW, don't WOW have something like 10 million users? Lets say 2 million of them are British, and that 750,000 arte either Bank of scotland or halifax customers (made up numbers but you get the idea). How easy and conveniant do you think it would be to contact each of those 750,000 people every time there is a transaction between the customer and Blizzard? It would be easier and more manageable for them to get the customer to contact them. Considering they also have to deal with the other, non WOW or MMO based fraud, like holidays and travelling.

So it's a more manageable way to deal with it, just block every blizzard based transaction and let the customers contact them, allowing the transaction.

As others have said, atleast they arn't blaming Blizard or anyone like them, and blaming it on the criminals.

I can see how something like this could be considered a hassle- but honestly, their reasoning is sound, they're not pointing fingers at Blizzard, and they just want to protect their customers securely. And that they offer alternative payment methods is a show of good thinking- yeah, it might be a hassle, but it seems like these people just want to help.


So stopping the payment of 750,000 accounts at once is the best way to it... Leading to the call centres being flooded with angry customer and the loss of quite a few accounts?

Or to put it another way witholding £6.7million of payments from Blizzard in a single month. That's gonna hurt. It wouldn't surprise me if Blizzard had legal issues with such a move.

At least they provide for a 2nd option, to allow you to contact them directly and sort it out.

I'd still be ticked at Visa/Mastercard for not coming up with better security for their card numbers. Whatever happened to "Verified by Visa?"

almost as bad as what happened to runescape

" omgosh a smaal population of the players are using our site to make money so lets punish all of the players"


They haven't provided the 2nd option.

I called halifax CS today. They've never heard of this and couldn't help, so there is *no* option to pre-notify them. You have to call after they've bounced the payment, not before. There has been no official statement. The bank are just sitting waiting until hundreds of thousands of WoW accounts get suspended for nonpayment I guess.

Unless you happen to read the register or here you wouldn't know this was happening. That's most of their customers.

Basically they're penny pinching. Can't be bothered telling their customer they're going to do this, and don't have the procedures in place to handle it when they do.


Well look at it this way, if they do it the call people way, thats another 750,000 calls to check on fraud, out of how many, say a million a year they already have? And lets be honest, if we take 750,000 out of those million, they are more important. I mean a wow subscriptions is about £110 a year roughly, if they pay monthly, while the other cases are going to be worth what, £500+? What would you rather lose? £110 or £500+?

If you worked in a call centre, who would you rahter deal with? 750,000 angry gamers about their wow subscription, or somebody who are trying to buy more important things?

To me, it makes sense, and glad that that I'm not going to pay for some guys lvl 32 rouge, without my permission, which I will not give.

I work in a shop, and I do something that may be considered a bit of inconveniance, which is make people check the amount I've put in for any card transaction, when most other people don't do this, so someone is not paying £329.90 on something costing £32.99.

[...] Via: Game Politics   [...]

The customers are getting hit with it primarily, through no fault of their own.

Basically in a few days probably Im going to lose access to all 3 of my accounts, through no fault of my own. My wife will hit the roof, making my life hell too. And then sit in a phone queue with 750,000 other pissed off people trying to get the bank to do what it's supposed to do automatically. And I'm going to tell them exactly what I think of them too. I will *not* be calm about a bank refusing to do what it's paid to do.

This has absolutely nothing to do with security. Blizzard already use all the security measures available like visa secure.. there's nothing else they can do. Hell, there's more fraud at petrol stations than all the MMOs in the world put together.. should this bank decide it's now not possible to buy petrol? They're simply trying it on to see what they can get away with. They know most customers are sheep and won't switch.

It's true there are great shortfalls in the security of online transactions.. but game sites themselves also have to take some of the heat as well, for making their games popular for fraudsters to exploit. After all if there was no way for the fraudsters to exploit the game, then there would be no need for this action. Fraudsters wouldn't use the game.

With this kind of issue though there isn't an easy solution. In a way this saves Blizzard a lot of money having to deal with the repercussions of card fraud themselves...


They arn't saying you can't pay for WOW, just that it's more secure, so don't worry too much about it.

And pay the bank? Jeeze, They(Halifax) are holding thousands of pounds for me, even buying and selling shares for me in my stocks and shares isa, and I do it for a grand total of 0p (though I have to pay myself every so often to keep this up)

I can understand why Tony is unhappy. It seems to me like the bank may have wanted to give their customers some warning and allow for preemptive approval of the WoW charges. It would have probably made things better for the bank as well, as I imagine they would probably want to spread out the calls they get about this, rather than receiving a flood of calls all at once when tons of customers suddenly have their WoW accounts deactivated.

I'd like to add another voice to Tony's argument. I called them today to ask for them to continue to allow my Blizzard subscriptions but the person on the other end had not heard of this move and had no idea, and after a 20 minute wait on hold, neither had her supervisor.

If they had provided this second option I'd have been a lot less annoyed because it would have been a simple phone call to sort it out. If I have to wait for the payment to bounce, well then I lose the ability to play when I want and that will annoy me.

There is a third option though, which is the one I've opted for. Cancel your account with the bank and find another one. I've started looking for another bank to transfer too and in the meantime have purchased a one-month pre-paid game card that you can get from stores like GAME to pay for the time it takes to switch banks.

I'm not against the idea, just the shoddy implementation by the bank (and it isn't the first problem I've had with the Halifax).

[...] [via GamePolitics] [...]

Guess its no surprise that Halifax did pants on BBC's Watchdog last week.
They are now known for the stupidity. I used to be with them, but after they told me that they were going to charge me for transferring some of my money because they had forgotten to inform me that the terms and conditions of my account had changed, I switched faster than a speeding monkey!

I agree that this method, of getting the customer to contact them, seems the most logical way of doing it. But not warning customers..or even making them aware of the situation is BAD communication. These people hold your paychecks, they protect your savings, this sort of poor communication is not good enough.
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