SWTOR Update on Squelching and Credit Spam

A security team developer provided an update today on squelching and credit spam in SWTOR.

Hey everyone,

I’m a developer attached to our security team, and that includes fighting credit farmers, exploiters, sellers, and spammers. Unfortunately we have to be pretty tight lipped about any of our security work because we don’t want ‘The Baddies’ knowing what we’re doing. The best kind of work we do is where players don’t realize we’ve done anything at all. I promise you, though, we do work hard at ensuring the game experience is fun from all sides, and that includes cutting down on spam wherever viable.

One of the more frustrating kinds of spam players have reported recently was a new approach: Tell Spam. We noticed spammers sending massive numbers of tells to players around the server. The rate the messages went out meant it was impossible for us to manually react. By the time someone saw the spam the damage was done. A large number of players were impacted and the spammer could simply log out, their job done. That was too much of an inconvenience and we quickly built a system to cut down on that behavior.

Without going into too many details: If someone goes on a mission to send as many tells as they possibly can, as fast as they can, there’s a good chance they’ll wind up squelched, even without manual CSR intervention.

I want to stress that this action happens only because of efforts by the player who got squelched. They performed an action that was deemed sufficiently disruptive and likely enough to be a spammer or a griefer so the system automatically shut them down to prevent any more spam. Your friend who you sent a bunch of messages to too quickly (nice or mean) did not report you, a CSR didn’t hold a grudge against you, you just looked like a spammer to our automated systems. The squelch WILL eventually wear off (length is subject to change).

So, I have a few requests for all of you:

  1. Please don’t spam each other with the same message over and over again. That’s what spammers do, and you don’t want to copy them. If you need to get someone’s attention, you can slow down the messages. Copy-pasting the same message to people as fast as you can, over and over again, is the only way you can really hit current limits. I feel bad for anyone who gets caught and subsequently squelched, but the key is not to act like a spammer/credit seller.
  2. Secure your accounts. All of them, not just your SWTOR account. Credit spammers and sellers regularly compromise accounts, by getting into email accounts, figuring out passwords through shared accounts, or using Trojans to sniff passwords. Enable ‘Two Factor’ authentication on your email if available, use a security key for your SWTOR account, use a different password for different services, and find ways to ensure your data is locked up by more than just the username and password where you can. By having two factor authentication you make it much harder for them to improperly access your data.
  3. Please right-click and report spammers. We DO pay attention to that, and the more reports we get on a person the higher up it goes in our list of ‘Likely spam message’ for us to track and deal with. There was a brief time where right-click reporting wasn’t working properly and our CSRs weren’t getting the ‘check out this spammer and ban him’ message. That has been fixed, but that time of it being broken caused a sharp decline in people using it. It works now, I promise! Report spammers! It makes us all happier when we remove them from our game.
  4. Don’t buy credits!!! Buying credits encourages the spamming and encourages bad people to keep harming others. While tracking and busting these rings we discover links to stolen credit cards, compromised accounts, and cheating in game. This harms the play experience for other players and they do all of this because they make money. We’re doing what we can on our end but we need the players to push back too and to refuse to buy from them. With No-Cost character training we’ve removed a huge credit sink and acquiring credits has gotten much easier, thanks to the Epic Story XP Boost (12X XP) getting you to higher-end content faster. Why put your account, personal, and financial information at risk, when you can easily protect it?

[A developer who is remaining anonymous because credit selling is literally tied to organized crime and my job is to make them angry]

P.S. We do read the forums and see your complaints and I want you guys to keep it up! If something is bugging you about spam in the game, about exploits happening, about things going wrong, TELL US. We do action them as we can, and those posts do make a difference. We can’t always show our work, and as far as security tasks are concerned we usually try and keep you from seeing anything happened at all, but we are there in the shadows, working to keep things right. Sorry this is the first (and probably last) post I’ll get to make on the topic, but please keep up posting about problems, keep reporting spammers, keep helping us help you.


By Dulfy

MMO guide writer and blogger. Currently playing and covering SWTOR, GW2, and TSW.

61 replies on “SWTOR Update on Squelching and Credit Spam”

Thank you for the work that you and your team do to keep our pastime secure. If we ever meet, drinks are on me.

Yup, BW don’t appear to do anything they get hammered. They put a post up that they are doing stuff but can’t explain it in minutia (for obvious reasons), they get hammered. In short they are on a hiding to nothing regardless of what they do.

Like you, I’m pleased they are doing something and letting us know.

Well, it seems pretty obvious that buying credits from spammers is a short road to getting the bejeezuz hacked out of you.

Any time I get any in-game mail, whispers, or even just see it in gen chat I report like that I report it – it’s just an automatic habit now. An annoying one.

“[A developer who is remaining anonymous because credit selling is literally tied to organized crime and my job is to make them angry]”

Has BW or any employee or affiliated person received threats, overt or implicit, against them by anyone who comes across as Mob-associated?

I would like to meet this developer as well, but for the fact we could both be wearing concrete boots; after being tortured for security information regarding fighting this whole criminal enterprise…

I like that even though the Devs and Bioware in general gets the blame for issues affecting play-style, they still do the work the actually affects the game. You can complain about your class all day long, but credit spamming is a real problem and they are working their butts off to stop it. Bravo BW Security Team. Keep up the real work!

It’s a real problem since their crackdown, sure. Beforehand it wasn’t an issue at all, now everyone is getting spam sent to them. Glad to see they’re trying, but thus far they’ve just made things worse imho.

Not at all, I see less n less spams each day and that means the spammers are going awok, so thats a good thing.

Also report them on sight , do your part to fix this problem.

My point was they weren’t sending me messages before. They were easily ignored, but now they’re an irritant.

The spam was and is an ongoing problem. I agree with those below that say its seems to be getting better. Personally, I’ve only been tell spammed twice in 2 years playing. In WoW (which I quit for SWTOR), it was quite constant and much more annoying then anything here. I just wanted to give BW a deserved pat on the back where it was needed.

Fair enough, but from my perspective they’ve created a problem were before there was none. Is there any reason they don’t just enforce some sort of credit/debit/paypal verification system to stop these spam accounts and confirm players are players instead of spammers?

I don’t know how you can say there wasn’t a problem before. Its been an ongoing problem for many months now. Some days, as soon as I would log in, my gen chat would be filled with multiple spammers trying to sell their crap. While there are still spammers, its less than it used to be

Because general chat is easily ignored unless you’re looking for a pug group, and that’s a fraction of total time one spends online. My guild chat tab doesn’t filter out people sending me /tells, however, so like I said this is now and issue whereas before it was just the MMO norm and very easily ignored.

That requires coordination with multiple credit vendors and banks. The cost of that is high, and you are not guaranteed that the banks and vendors will even work with you

Ben I’ll happily take one or two whispers every so often, rather than seeing it every 30 seconds in general chat.

Speak for yourself. It’s far easier to ignore general chat than it is /tell. There’s literally no way to ignore it unless you make a tab that doesn’t show /tell, but that’s not a viable solution :S

Bioware is in cahoots with the credit spammers… how else would you explain the huge tax on gtn item sells… it is there for nothing else than to mantain credit spammers up…

LOL conspiracy theories

Its the globalists that want it there so that people will get used to the real world taxes that they implement in a similar manner on everyting.

I was watching general chat on Jedi Covenant, and I noticed that the majority of the spammers that evening had names that all ended in the letters “dasd”. Wonder if they could put some sort of restriction on those four letters appearing in a name? Just a thought.

“dawd” is really common too, but something like you’re suggesting wouldn’t solve anything. They’d just tweak whatever they have generating names to avoid strings that are blocked. Real people monitoring the game would go a long way toward solving the problem.

Too little, too late. I got hit on Saturday for “squelching” because I have a guildie that doesn’t pay attention to guild chat and asks we send him a ton of message to get his attention. Instead, I got a red “you are squelched” message anytime I tried to type in ANY chat (guild, general, officer, whispers, group). I called support and they said they had no idea what that meant. I put in a ticket and got no response, and created an angry forum post that got no response. After 24 hour the “squelching” just shut off and I was able to carry on. But thanks for nothing bio-shit. If you had any brain, you could add logic that says:
1) If a guild member is messaging another guild member, don’t squelch
2) Also, Gold spammers (at least so far) don’t multi-message people. they hit each of us once then logout. So it should be multiple messages real fast to multiple people

I know who you are in real life and you are a total asshole! You kick people out of your guild for not logging in for 5 days, plus you force young Mexicans to change their names to “Tomatillo”. I’m glad you got squelched and I hope you get squelched up the ass next time dick!

Damn these spammers but the guys are doing a good job cutting them off.
I’m reporting a lot of them everyday, its our duty too to eliminate these assess from the game !

Report and Eliminate the spammers !

You need to watch the “Kick asss” movie’s 1 AnD 2.

The world needs Hero’s so at least try to become one.

This is the real world, and it’s sad that you seem to need to be reminded of that; while the virtual currency trade isn’t quite so lethal to opposition as drugs or other criminal operations, the more money is tied up in such business, the less everyone else’s lives are worth.

I got squelched over the weekend without having sent a single tell/whisper. They apologized and told me it shouldn’t have happened, but didn’t say what triggered it. There’s some measure in play (tied to /say or being reported) that they aren’t mentioning.

Good thing they aren’t mentioning it, that proves that there is security up and they don’t want it compromised.

All it proves is that it doesn’t work correctly, since, y’know, I’m not a credit spammer.

The thing is, the spammers aren’t totally dumb, and they began to use randomly genereated integers in their messages.

On the bright side, I’d like to see Republic Honor Guard squelched with their never-ending recruitment spam.

Let’s be honest: They’re not JUST “keeping away the Bad Guys”. Sure, they don’t want PAYING players’ account & financial information compromised (Class Action Lawsuit). They also don’t want credit sellers eating into the profit margins of the Cartel Market.


Dude dont say that to fanbois, they think BioAware takes care of them and not their precious Cartel Market.

Unless you are a goldseller fan then you must be a true complainer.

Gold sellers wouldn’t exists without all the crazies that buy from them so you can understand that some people need to start evolve their way of thinking a bit and stop feeding the spammers.

Crazy is pay real $ for a gambling box, crazy is pay real $ for a broken and unfinished game, crazy is 3 years of right clicking on barrels and killing 15 mobs …and you complain for span in a chat you can simply ignore? Goldsellers are part of the mmo industry and only bothers the companys who likes to milk their customers wallets. Not a single goldseller interrupted ever my games , game bugs and lack of players does… Fix that and then take care of goldsellers

Well, disorganised crime as well.

It’s unfortunate that developers, however snooty and patronising, are harrassed, and their family!

My only concern is that I can do all soloable daily content plus the Oricon heroic relatively easily.

but but but….timmy has told me since day 1 none of this is happening and Bioware does nothing about it lolololololololol Thanks for the post guys it does a player good knowing these dirtbags are being dealt with!!!!!

Blshts, haven’t seen any of them around for some time.
So no complains here they did a good job on that.

Hope the crazies that use them will change their minds too at last.

Seems like someone has been playing a bit too much WoW…”squelch”? lol…. and since when does swtor have “tells”? It’s sad when the developers of the game cant even use the correct terminology for THEIR GAME, instead they use terminology from the game they have copied every step of the way… I guess their developers should spend more time actually playing swtor instead of WoW… it’s bad when your own developers wont even play your crappy game lawl.

Yes using generic terms that have been around since the beginning of MMOs is a sure sign that they don’t play their own game. /eyeroll

Yep, the /tell been around since old EverQuest (atleast)… which obviously copied it from WoW
Total proof that the Devs don’t play SWToR! 🙂

It doesn’t matter what game I’m playing.

I generally use the term guilds, raids, and tells. This is because they are very clear terms that can be easily understood across numerous games.

Hell, I still use the term ding when I level.

Please don’t spam each other with the same message over and over again. That’s what spammers do…

Made me kind of laugh!

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I bet they just composed that text posted from an anonymous developer because that developer doesn’t exist. 😀

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