Archive for the ‘Billing & Accounts’ Category

Banned: The Update

Thursday, December 17th, 2009

In my last post I discussed my recent experience of getting my Lord of the Rings Online account banned.

(For the record, although the email I received called it a “temporary suspension”, my Turbine billing account listed the game as “banned” until the year 2037.)

Four days after the initial notice, I received a second email from Turbine’s In-Game Support, stating that my account “…was identified as being compromised as it accessed our game from an IP address directly associated with gold farming, selling, powerleveling, and account hacking activities. Other accounts in addition to yours were compromised, and as soon as we identified this we suspended the affected accounts so that they could not be further abused.” Scary stuff! At the end of the email I was instructed to contact them again as soon as I had changed the password on my master Turbine account.

The following day I received a third email indicating that my LotRO account had been reinstated. Anxiously I logged into the game, half expecting to find my minstrel naked and penniless. Or worse – deleted.

Instead, I found nothing.

Nothing was missing. No gold or items had been taken. None of my characters had been touched.

Which leaves me mightily relieved and perplexed – all at the same time. I was grateful for the fact that resolution occurred in 5 days, not 2 weeks. Although I found the 2 week estimation to be excessive, and the lack of payment suspension to be annoying, it wasn’t the time or the money that truly bothered me. It was the lack of transparency.

Turbine originally claimed that they had reason to believe that my computer had been compromised, but they weren’t giving me the information I needed to take appropriate action. It’s rather unsettling to think that your computer may have been hacked, or that it contained a virus that managed to elude your best cyber defenses. I STILL don’t know what they saw in my account that caused them to take such drastic measures. Perhaps I was accidentally caught up in some type of preemptive anti-hacking initiative? Maybe it was a simple case of mistaken identity?

Or maybe Middle Earth now has ninjas?

Does Middle Earth Have An Unemployment Office?

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

Well, it’s official. The US economic recession has now hit Middle Earth. My level 45 minstrel in Lord of the Rings Online has lost her job.

Earlier this week I received an email, supposedly from Turbine, stating in part the following:

Your account has been identified as potentially being accessed by a third-party. Turbine has temporarily suspended your account to prevent any further access to your account. Please note that this does not indicate in any way that Turbine has been compromised; in most cases this indicates a security issue on the computer used to play the Lord of the Rings Online. IMPORTANT: Please understand that this suspension is not a punishment, but a way to prevent further access to your account.

Being the natural online skeptic that I am, I initially assumed that the email was a phishing scam and considered deleting it. Unfortunately, a quick check of my LotRO billing account indicated that my account had indeed been banned – until the year 2037, no less. (I guess Turbine feels optimistic about the longevity of their game!)

The email went on to request that I run a full virus scan on my computer and then contact their online customer support to get my account re-instated. After completing the online support ticket I was given a friendly message stating that it would be at least 2 weeks before I received a response from my request.


This entire episode has me completely baffled. A deep scan of my computer via Avast Antivirus produced NO viruses. None. Since I have a dedicated gaming computer, I don’t browse the web or even have an email program installed on it. I’m behind an encrypted router. No other games on this computer have been affected, including Turbine’s other online game – Dungeons & Dragons Online – for which I have an active subscription. A simple dictionary attack of my username/password information seems unlikely, since I would think that Turbine would limit the number of login attempts.

So what happened?

Conveniently enough, although Turbine has banned me from playing LoTRO until I reach the age of 70, they neglected to suspend my automatic payments. I guess it’s ok for me pay for a service I can’t use while their customer service department tries to figure out whether or not I’m worthy of re-instating. Imagine if your cable TV company contacted you stating that they think your next door neighbor is leeching your cable signal. As a precaution, they’re turning off your cable TV service for the next few weeks, but they’re going to continue to bill you for it until they get the issue resolved.

ARGH! If any of you have experienced something similar to this, I’d love to hear your stories. Meanwhile, anyone need an unemployed minstrel?