The U.S. Federal Trade Commission, or FTC, is warning people against dubious Nintendo Switch emulators populating online.
The FTC issued the warning on Tuesday, April 18, titled "There's no Nintendo Switch emulator." FTC's statement holds water. There are no Switch emulators in existence, and if there were, that would be an impressive feat, seeing as the console was only released early last month.
FTC issued the warning amid a scam making the rounds. Either people are searching for Switch emulators, or scammers themselves are masquerading harmful software as emulators.
FTC: No Switch Emulators Exist
The warning comes as a response to the increasing demand of Switch units, which have been difficult to find in retail stores. As the FTC sees it, those wanting to secure themselves units but are unable to are turning to emulators as a recourse. This prompted the FTC to signal them that there's no such thing.
"If you can't get your hands on a Nintendo Switch gaming system, you may think an emulator is the next best thing. Think again," wrote Lisa Weintraub Schifferle, attorney for FTC's Division of Consumer & Business Education.
The steep demand has eager Switch buyers turning to eBay, where sellers have exploited the scarcity and applied ridiculously high markups to Switch units. Some retailers, such as GameStop, have cashed in on the supply problem, too, offering the console in budget-heavy bundles.
But there's no reason to turn to emulators, argues the FTC. There are a number risks, obviously, but the most crucial one involves these scammers duping customers who won't think twice about a Switch emulator.
"[W]hen you try to download a Nintendo Switch emulator, you can install unwanted applications on your computer. These apps give you misleading information about computer problems that aren't really there, then ask you to pay to fix them," wrote the FTC.
Downloading an emulator often entails users completing a survey, and receiving a code to "unlock" the software. The FTC warns people not to give out sensitive data such as credit card numbers, addresses, and the whole nine yards.
How To Avoid Switch Emulator Scams
The FTC offers four core ways by which people can ward off Switch emulator scams. First, avoid downloading any kind of software which hails itself as a Switch emulator, no matter how seemingly legitimate it claims it is.
Second, don't attempt to complete a survey to receive an unlock code. This, according to the FTC, is a red flag for a scam.
Third, make sure your security software is up to date, and for good measure, don't install any programs willy-nilly; it can lead to malware.
Fourth, try borrowing a Switch from relatives or playing it from a friend's house, to stave off the desire.
The fourth is an odd recourse, especially coming from the FTC, but its core point makes sense: just wait for the Switch if you can't buy one right now. Don't resort to emulators.
The FTC encourages those victimized by a scam to report such cases using its website.
The Switch is Nintendo's latest gaming console, and also its first true hybrid gaming system. It offers both traditional home console-style play, and handheld mode experiences. It was released March 3, and has been selling well since. It launched alongside Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild, which, like the Switch, has also been raking in sales.