VAC Bans Will Extend To Accounts Linked By Phone Number

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(Editor’s Note: The article incorrectly stated incorrectly that the ban on associated accounts lasted three months. The ban on the phone number itself lasts three months, the ban on accounts is permanent. Thank you to Matt in the comments for correcting our mistake.)

Imagine a world where cheaters use burner phones to mask the identities of their individual Steam accounts, not unlike drug dealers, because just such a scenario could become more prevalent with a recent policy change at Valve.

Presently, if you are caught cheating in a VAC-protected game you are banned from VAC-enabled servers on that game. But what is stopping a person from buying Counter Strike: Global Offensive when it goes on sale for fifty cents (or whatever low price it hits during seasonal sales) and stocking up on 10+ accounts? Or Team Fortress 2 which is free to play? Nothing, and it is a noticeable problem in both titles.

Valve is taking on the issue two-fold: The first is to institute a matchmaking system for Counter Strike: GO that only links players whose accounts have phone numbers attached for two-factor authentication. The second is to ban any Steam account associated with that phone number if one of the accounts cheats. The bans on associated phone numbers lasts for three months, during which the number cannot be applied to any other account.

The benefit is that it is effectively impossible to buy a new phone only to find out too late that the guy who held the number before you was VAC-banned and still on probation.

(Source: Engadget)

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  • Matt Madigan

    “The bans on associated accounts last for three months.”
    I’m not sure that this comment is entirely accurate, after reading the Valve VAC support page, it looks like three months is actually how long the phone number is blacklisted for, and that number cannot be associated to any new accounts. I may however be reading this incorrectly, but here is the Valve page I am talking about:
    https://support.steampowered.com/kb_article.php?ref=7849-Radz-6869#banbyphone

  • Diane LaSalle Allan

    My son was vac banned for playing on a workshop map with his friend. A friend of that kid got sent the code who then sent it to my son. They weren’t playing the game. Now the ban has affected my husbands account and my sons twin. How nice they have lost hundreds of dollars of steam cards when they weren’t playing the damn game.
    Can he make an account with his own phone number that was different from the linked number they had without it being comprised by the vac ban. I don’t want to have computer reformatted. Can he make a whole new account and start from scratch is what I’m asking

    • Connor

      Diane

      To answer your question, yes you can start a new account with a new number, it won’t be banned. I would suggest checking the computer for cheat programs like Cheat Engine (one of the more popular) for two reasons.

      So two things. First, you cannot be banned on Vac for workshop maps, they cannot be loaded with the kind of data that would flag an account. Second, a lot of unintended Vac bans either come from programs that people think are safe (ie cheat engine), from compromised accounts, or from sharing the account with a friend who uses it to cheat or one of the aforementioned programs. VAC runs on a delay, so whatever flagged the account likely did so a couple of weeks before the ban.

      False flags are insanely rare, but I’m not going to accuse your son of lying to you. You can submit a ticket at https://help.steampowered.com/en/ and they will get back to you about the ban. You may need to press them to get an answer.

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