Below are some frequently asked questions regarding compromised accounts. We understand this issue can be confusing, so we've done our best to provide clear answers and details on next steps. This post is aimed at people who have filed (or intend to file) an appeal to contest a ban resulting from a hacked account. Any attempt to circumvent a legitimate ban by falsely claiming your account was compromised will result in your appeal being denied.
Q: What's a "linked account?"
A: Cheaters frequently try to bypass bans by playing from other accounts. BF4DB uses a variety of factors to identify those accounts and ban them as linked accounts, meaning we believe they were used by someone who's already banned. If an account is compromised, this can sometimes cause it to be banned as a linked account.
Q: What does it mean if my account was compromised?
A: If your account was compromised (aka "hacked" or "hijacked"), this means it was accessed by someone other than yourself.
Q: I haven't shared my account with anyone. How would someone else gain access?
A: There are a variety of ways this could happen, but typically it's the result of the account owner re-using passwords across multiple websites or services. When one of those websites or services suffers a breach, the credentials often get shared through online crime networks or published on the public internet. Hackers will then try plugging them into various login portals--everything from social media to online banking--to see if they work, a process known as credential stuffing, and either use those accounts for nefarious purposes or sell them off to someone else. Ultimately, your login information made its way into the hands of one or more people who decided to use it to play BF4.
Q: How would I know if my account was compromised?
A: When EA believes a login event is suspicious, they've been known to trigger an email to the account owner letting them know. However the absence of this email doesn't rule out the possibility of a compromise.
Q: What should I do in response and how can I prevent this from happening again?
A: You should change your password and turn on 2-factor authentication, not just for BF4/EA but for any other online accounts that share the same credentials. EA's version of 2FA is called Login Verification. As a best practice, all of your account passwords should be unique. Google, for example, has its own password manager integrated with Chrome which can help you set and manage unique passwords for each website you sign into.
Q: How can I prove my account was compromised and that I wasn't the one who cheated?
A: Our staff reviews the available data during the appeals process and may also ask some questions to make a determination.
Q: I secured my EA account. Can I be unbanned now?
A: We will unban a compromised account only if 1) the owner proves the account is secured with 2FA, and 2) there is no evidence of cheats being used on the account.
Q: Why does it matter if someone else cheated on my account? I turned on 2FA so it can't be hacked again.
A: As a matter of policy we do not unban accounts when there is evidence of cheating, regardless of who was using them at the time. Your account is your responsibility. We realize this can be frustrating, especially if you put a lot of time and effort into unlocking weapons and improving your stats, but this policy is necessary to prevent abuse and maintain fair gameplay. Our stance on this issue is aligned with that of other leading anti-cheat services including Steam's VAC, Easy Anti-Cheat, and BattlEye.
Q: Okay, so BF4DB concluded my account was hacked and used by someone else to cheat. Now what?
A: Your appeal will be denied but we'll mark your account as a hacked account. This means you can buy the game again on a new account without it being banned as a linked account. Nowadays, you can often buy the full premium version of the game from reputable sources (Origin, Amazon, Steam, etc.) for less than $10 USD. If you buy a game key outside of Origin, make sure you add it to a NEW ACCOUNT as EA will not prevent you from adding it to your existing account even though it already has the game, essentially wasting the key.
Q: What if I don't want to buy the game again?
A: Your options are somewhat limited but you may still be able to use your existing account on Official servers, servers not running the BF4DB plugin, or servers where you've worked directly with the owner to get whitelisted in the plugin (many servers have a Discord where you can contact the admins).