Why I have grown to hate steamgames.com

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A son of mine, I’m not saying which one, borrowed from my desk a credit card and -- quick like a bunny -- bought over $200 worth of in-game weapons, tools, etc. for the Steam game platform from steamgames.com, which is owned by Valve Corp. Needless to say, the kid is busted, but the more important point for this column is how easily he, for a time, got away with his crime.

I would have thought that vendors like steamgames.com would not want children to be buying game stuff without the consent of their parents, yet they made it so easy -- too easy.

When I use a credit card to buy something online it seems like they always ask for a billing address or at least a billing zip code, but not at store.steampowered.com. My kid didn’t know the billing address for the credit card because it isn’t our home address and isn’t (or wasn’t, I should say) even in California. It was a business credit card and the business was based in another state.

I asked about this when I checked with the bank to see who had been using my card and they told me all those security functions like asking for the billing zip code and the security number on the back aren’t required by the bank or the credit card issuer at all, but by the merchant, to minimize fraud.

In light of this, it only makes sense that steamgames.com wants kids like mine to buy stuff using whatever means they have available. Maybe their parents won’t notice.

Under US law, since my son is under 18, I can probably call and get the charges reversed. I’ll try that tomorrow. But in a culture where bad guys seem to lurk everywhere trying to steal our identities and worse, it’s pretty disgusting to see a company (Valve Corp.) that doesn’t appear to give a damn.

What do you think?

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