Saturday, June 21, 2008
One of the reasons why I wrote this guide, particularly this following section, is because so many people wanted information from me about things relating to policy. Most of the time, they just wanted me to get their accounts unbanned. I used to offer an account unbanning service, but I decided it'd be much better if I just wrote a guide and included that in it, so people could do it themselves. I will not write your unban email for you.
You've all probably seen those threads on "UNBAN YOUR ACCOUNT, 100% WORKING!", saying that if you just e-mail "Hi Blizzard I was hacked please unban my account thanks bye", they'll unban your account. While, in theory, if the facts surrounding the ban were cloudy from the start, that could possibly get the account unbanned, it isn't likely.
First off, if you get banned, the only department that deals with appeals/bans in general is Account Administration. Do not call Billing, as they'll be unable to help you. On WoW EU, I believe it's called Game Security and/or Account Review. If you want to try and get your ban overturned, you first must e-mail this department. Unfortunately, they do not have a phone number.
WoW US's Account Administration e-mail is firstname.lastname@example.org.
WoW EU's Game Security e-mail is email@example.com.
So, you might be thinking "oh, I can just beg for forgiveness and say the punishment was too harsh and I'll never do it again and they'll unban me."
Blizzard does not remove a suspension or re-open an account just because you say the punishment was too harsh. The only way they’ll investigate and consider removing the account action is if they think you did not do the action. This means you have to come up with a story saying you were hacked. Now, this also means that you almost 100% definitely will not get your account back if it was you who did whatever on your account. This is assuming that you always log on from your account from one computer, and do not share it with anyone else. The IP logs will show that you have logged into your account from the same IP from when you first set up the account. And then it will show that same IP botting/hacking/exploiting/scamming/whatever. Now, if you did the action from a computer not in your house, that may give you a better chance. If you have gotten powerleveling in the past, or if you do share your account, then it's possible it could help or and it's possible if it could hurt you. They could see the IP changes and possibly assume you getting keylogged constantly, but usually when it's in such a pattern, they know you shared/bought powerleveling. And if that's the case, they'll just stop the investigation right there and say "We have completed a second review of your recent account actions to ensure accuracy. Unfortunately, our decision remains, and has now been reconfirmed by this second investigation."
If you were banned for doing something, and you were the one who was doing that thing on the account, specifically from your computer which you use to log on to your account, then there's a very high chance you will not get your account back. If you use different computers and/or share your account, it could possibly help you, possibly hurt you, and could possibly do nothing. I'd say though that if you were the one who botted on your account, but you have used different computers/shared your account in the past, it increases your chances by maybe 1% or so. It always looks best for you if you have constantly logged onto your account from the same IP forever, have never shared it, and then a foreign IP comes on there and does something. This looks the most like a real hacking case. So, if you were botting or hacking, then your chances have sadly decreased greatly that you will ever see the characters on that account again.
Although, do not give up hope just yet if you were botting/hacking. Sometimes, as a result of sloppy investigations on Blizzard's end, accounts will sort of "accidentally" be purged of their actions due to the email you send in claiming you were hacked. It's possible they'll assume that whatever action occurred was a result of the action, and they may not investigate the action that was given well enough. The point is that it can never hurt to send an email in. Any time you get banned, just send an email in. The worst thing that can happen is they say no. The best thing that can happen is they unban the account. Keep in mind, though, that if you were banned for 3rd party program usage and you actually manage to get it unbanned, there's a higher chance the account will be put into a locked state. This means that the account will be closed until ID is sent in. It's also quite possible that a lock will occur even if the ban reason was exploitation of the economy ("exploitation of the economy" covers powerleveling, account renting, and other similar activities).
(Note: The below paragraph only refers to you if your account is in a locked state. Meaning, if you send in an email, and they unban it, but then they request ID. If they do not unban it at all, then this will not help you. If they just reopened it and gave it back to you, then it's not locked, and you don't need to read what's below. But if you got an email saying "please send in ID", please read below).
If your account is locked, and you need to send in fake ID, there are 2 things you need to check. First, do you know with 100% certainty, the exact first and last name on the account? Second, the email you get requesting for ID will contain a .pdf file. If the .pdf file is http://ftp.blizzard.com/pub/WoW/othe...-Retrieval.pdf, then you're fine, and you have passed the 2 requirements. If the file is http://ftp.blizzard.com/pub/WoW/othe...val-Notary.pdf, then you're royally screwed, as this one asks for a notary. A notary is essentially a person who ensures that the ID you give them is, in fact, the person standing in front of them. Meaning, fake ID won't work. And trying to trick a notary will most likely land you with a fine and very possibly in prison. So, if the form you get ends in -Notary and if it asks for a notary, then you must either get the original owner of the account (the one with the first and last name on the account) to get some ID and go to a notary himself, or just give up on the account entirely.
this "help I got hacked" method works quite well when you get powerleveling, honor leveling, or when you rent your account out. The IP logs will hopefully show (in Blizzard’s eyes) that a Chinese IP got the password to your account and were leveling your characters up and/or farming gold on them in order to sell the gold. If they conclude this, they may remove the account action just like that, but most likely they’ll require that you fax in ID proving that you’re the owner of the account. They’ll require some sort of identification like a driver’s license, and possibly a notary with it. When you fax it in, be sure that it looks very legible. Although, it all depends on what comes out of Blizzard’s fax machine. It may look legible to you, but on their end it may look too dark or too blurred. I’d recommend faxing it to another machine and seeing how it looks, and to make sure that it still looks good after being faxed.
Alright, so, you want to write up a story to get an account that was banned for using powerleveling. Google a common keylogger, copy and paste the name, and start writing. Say your anti-spyware software (specifically name what picked it up, like Spybot Search and Destroy or Ad-Aware or Spy Doctor or whatever) caught the keylogger, and say it quarantined and deleted it. Talk about how you heard about what keyloggers do and say you’re sure that someone hacked your account. Use as many specific descriptions as possible: it’s all in the details. Say you went on a work trip/vacation for a few days, and when you came back the account was banned. Or say a friend contacted you when you were at work, saying he saw you in-game but you were acting weird, and when you got home you tried to log in but it said you were banned. Be creative; make up a story that sounds like it could really be true.
The reason why this works so well is because, every day, tons and tons of people have their accounts hacked, and it's often by keyloggers. There are many keylogger posts on the WoW forums every day, and many people click them. The people who post these linksare usually from China (so many keylogger sites end in .cn), and although they usually just strip all your gear or try and get your gold, sometimes they'll do it to do some quick gold farming to help whatever gold selling business they're working for. So, let's say you hire some powerleveling from a Chinese website, and you get banned. Well, the whole point of this is to hope that Blizzard sees it as you getting hacked by a keylogger, and then a Chinese IP gets on your account and does a lot of gold farming. This is the "core" of the success of making up a fake story.
Above all, though, please understand that I am in no way making any sort of guarantee doing this will get your account unbanned. This will just give it a chance to be unbanned, and depending on the scenario, it could be a high chance or it could be a low chance. Please do not get your hopes up after sending Blizzard a story; you might get it back, but you really might not.
So, let’s say you send your story in to AA/Game Security, but they replied back in a week and said they reinvestigated it and said it will stay closed. If you’re on WoW US, what you should now do is send an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. They supervise the entire AA department, and are pretty much the highest people you can ever talk to. Say you already talked to AA, and say that you were really hacked, and just reinforce your story.
Note: Do not e-mail the AA supervisors (email@example.com) if you haven’t already e-mailed the base AA department (firstname.lastname@example.org). You must e-mail AA first before you e-mail their supervisors.
Unfortunately, as far as I know, there is no WoW EU supervisor address. If they don’t unban the account, you can e-mail them again and provide more details and just try and build your story up, and hope for the best.
To sum it up: you're emailing Blizzard and telling them you got hacked, and you are also giving them good evidence, as in proof, that you got hacked. This means you are telling them how you know you got hacked. Just saying "I got hacked" isn't gonna cut it. You need to describe the trojan/keylogger you found on your computer.
Here's a short example e-mail I wrote up for someone (edited from the original version, though). The details of his case were simple (got powerleveled via bot, never logged in during or after the powerleveling, was banned during the powerleveling), so I wrote a simple and short story. Here it is:
This in regards to my account, *insert account name here*. I left to go on vacation with my family on January 3rd; we were going to be gone for a couple weeks. When I got home mid afternoon today, on the 18th, I received this e-mail stating that my account has been closed for use of a third-party program. The thing is, I have not logged onto the account since I have been gone so this couldn't possibly be me. I was also unable to log in to my e-mail (not the one that's associated with this account), saying I had an incorrect password. I did the password recovery and got it back.
A long time ago a similar thing happened to my friend. He went away for a bit and came back to find an e-mail saying he used a third-party program. A bit after that, he thought he must've gotten hacked or something, so he did a virus scan and it found something called a keylogger that apparently records WoW account passwords. He cleared that up with you guys, luckily. So, thinking of that, I downloaded an anti-spyware program called Spybot Search & Destroy. I did a scan, and when it was finished it told me it picked something up called *put REAL keylogger name here; Google for an actual keylogger name*. I got really, REALLY scared and I did a Google search of this and it said it's a type of WoW keylogger. The Google search also showed a few WoW players saying they got hacked and they found this exact same trojan. Spybot automatically quarantined it and the files it was associated with, and I deleted it.
I checked all of my other things, and apparently the keylogger only got my WoW account and one of my e-mail accounts, luckily.
Please investigate this further for me, as I really believe that I was hacked. Whoever got the keylogger on my computer probably did something on my account that got it banned.
Just tell me if you need anything else from me.
DO NOT USE THIS ABOVE EMAIL EXACTLY. I REPEAT: DO NOT USE THIS EMAIL. THIS IS JUST AN EXAMPLE. IF MULTIPLE PEOPLE SEND THIS IN, THEN THE ACCOUNT ADMINISTRATION EMPLOYEE MAY CATCH ON AND SEE THAT THEY'RE BEING TRICKED. YOU NEED TO MAKE AN EMAIL SIMILAR TO THIS ONE; DO NOT JUST COPY AND PASTE THIS ONE. TRUST ME, PLEASE!!!
I highly recommend you do not reply to your ban email to send this. What you should do is send (compose) a new email, not as a reply, to email@example.com for US and to firstname.lastname@example.org for EU. Meaning, do not just click Reply on the ban email, you should physically click "Send New Email" and send it that way. Do not title it "Ban Dispute" or whatever, title it something similar to "Account Hacked - Need Help" or "Hacked, found a keylogger" or something similar. If you do it that way, the whole thing seems more like a "help me I just got hacked" request than a ban dispute, and this will definitely increase your chances of getting the account back.
Here's some things you need to include in your e-mail:
-When you found the keylogger.
-What program found the keylogger.
-What the keylogger was called and what file it infected, if any.
-How you found out that it was a keylogger. Best way to do this is to say you Googled its name.
-Say that the spyware/virus scanner quarantined and deleted it.
Also, another big thing, above all, is to sound concerned. You're scared that you found this keylogger, you're worried about your account, you're worried that the keylogger may have gotten other accounts of yours, etc. You have to pretty much sound like you were truly a keylogger victim. Pretend as if you woke up one day, tried to log in to your account, and it said invalid password, and let's say you actually did a scan and found a keylogger. For those of you who don't know, a keylogger keeps a log of your keystrokes, including usernames and passwords, and e-mails the log to someone or puts it on a private FTP server. So, whoever got it on your computer now knows every password you typed since you got the keylogger. Sound pissed, sound angry, sound worried about your account. Remember, this is your account, your computer, and it's been invaded and tampered with.
I recommend you begin the email entirely by saying you got hacked and that you found a keylogger, and then finish the email it by saying that you just saw you got a ban and that it must have something to do with it. Just mention the ban at the very end of the email. You need to sound concerned, and your main concern is that your account got hacked, not that it got banned. Remember that. Consider the banning part just an afterthought. This means that the subject of your email should have nothing to do with the ban, make your email subject somewhat similar to "I got hacked, please help". Do not say "please unban me I got hacked" in the subject, and to be honest, don't say that anywhere in the email. You should never, ever say the words "unban me". Just mention that you see the account got banned, and that it must have been a result of the hacker, and say that you hope Blizzard can investigate it fully. The email is intended to be read as a cry for help from a hack victim, NOT a ban dispute. This is why this method works so well.
You want to be as detailed as humanly possible, and you want it to sound as real as possible. Be polite towards Blizzard, and it's recommended that you take a sort of "begging" tone. I don't mean get on your knees and beg, but just something similar to "please help me out with this; I hope you can investigate and clear this up".
Let's say you got some powerleveling. Let's say you logged in shortly after the powerleveling, only played for a short period of time, and then you got banned later that day. You could make a story saying you logged on for a bit in the morning before work, saw the damage done to your account, but you had to leave for work immediately, planning to report the increased level of your character as soon as you get home.
If you played for a while after the powerleveling, you could give the same story but say that you share your account with your only son (which is allowed), and you let him play it when you're at work. Say you told him that you think something weird happened to the account, and say you told him to call you if anything strange happened while you were at work. Then say you did get a call from him later at work, and he told you that he was unable to log onto the account as it was banned.
Mold and shape the story to fit the times you logged in/didn't log in. You can't just use my generic example, most likely. Also, I recommend you don't use my example, as someone else just used it and others may use it, and it's possible that the same Account Administration employee might see the same story from two different people. So, please DO NOT USE THIS EXACT EXAMPLE ABOVE! Make your own story.
And, above all, use details. Lying's all in the details, as any of you know if you've lied a lot in real life, or even if you scam people and need to make up stories for them ("Sorry I'm at work, and WoW isn't on this computer. I get home at around 6:30, but I have to help cook dinner for the kids and I may not get on until 7:30. And sometimes other things come up. Kids are unpredictable.")
Use details, and just emphasize on the fact that you really think you were hacked. Try and act concerned not only for the ban, but also for the fact that someone invaded your account and did something to it.
Good luck with Account Administration (US) or Account Review (EU).
If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!