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"Battle tags" are used for identification among Diablo 3 players, and they are not unique. When you pick your battle tag, you are assigned a random 4-digit number to go at the end of it, such as:

EliteD00d#1234

However, on my friends list and when I'm in-game, this suffix is not displayed by default. I'm worried about the potential for a malicious user (or someone with a compromised account) to change their battle tag, either to impersonate me or impersonate one of my friends.

Even if you don't believe it to be a security risk, my current understanding of the friend's list indicates that I can't tell 2 people with the same BattleTag apart if I'm looking at my friends list or while we're in game. What happens if in a game or on my friends list there are two people with the same "root" battle tag? How does the game differentiate the two different accounts?


This seems to be a confusing question, so let's consider a concrete example:

Say I have two friends, both named Bob. They are terrible at picking Battle Tags and they both pick "Bob." For brevity's sake, one is Bob#1 and the other is Bob#2. I give the Bobs my BattleTag, and they both send me friend requests.

My experience with the UI thus far seems to indicate I'd get a friend request from both that just reads "Bob wants to be your friend." The #1 or #2 is not present.

Further, the number is not shown for my current friends either on my friends list or in-game. I don't specify this number when I send a message or quick-join a game.

Say I'm playing with both the Bobs, and we're fighting a hard group of demons. Bob#1 calls out "Hey, I'm in trouble with this group, help!" - on the chat UI, I see

[Bob] Hey, I'm in trouble with this group, help!

How do I know which Bob is about to get smacked down?

Say one of the Bobs goes rogue. He decides to impersonate the other Bob and drag his good name through the mud. How do I know which Bob is Evil Bob?

In short if two people on my friends list have the same Battle Tag, how do I tell them apart?

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You only get to change your BattleTag, at most, once now. –  Nick T May 23 '12 at 1:09
    
@NickT That's still not very reassuring. Once the RMAH comes out, there's bound to be accounts that have more monetary value than buying a new game, so if a scammer/hacker ever finds out, they may just be willing to give up their battletag and buy a new account with the money they make off you. –  Mr Smooth May 23 '12 at 2:31
    
@MrSmooth if someone is able to socially engineer you to that degree then you probably shouldn't be online. –  Nick T May 23 '12 at 3:55
    
@NickT Oh don't worry, I've never been hacked before, and I don't plan on it because I'm very careful, I'm just saying that only being able to change battletags once isn't really going to put off anyone who's dedicated. –  Mr Smooth May 23 '12 at 4:33
1  
Kill both Bobs, just to be sure. But back on topic, ... :) –  Flater May 25 '12 at 12:27

2 Answers 2

From the point of view of an attacker who wants your stuff, impersonating another friend you have seems like a relatively difficult thing to pull off.

  1. You can only change your BattleTag once, so someone can't endlessly cycle their name looking for easy marks. A level 1 asking for high-level gear is a bit suspicious; investing a great deal of time to get to 50-60 for a con that might work a handful of times is probably a lost cause.

  2. You either need to
    • accept a friend request out of the blue from someone you do not know or feigns it "Hey cute stuff, I didn't know you played D3 ;-)"
    • a "duplicate" friend request; hopefully seeing two identical names in your list would raise flags
    • or one shortly after an "oh, I'll add you on BNet" comment likely made off BNet. If they're able to monitor the latter, then you either are
      1. screwed anyways because the keylogger on your computer has already recorded your Battle.NET user/password, or
      2. royally screwed as they're tapping your home/phone/work (or standing right behind you).

  3. Once your friend, they would need to maintain some level of rapport that is consistent with what your past experiences.

If you are still worried, you could take the following steps:

  1. Do not add people you do not know to your friends list. If they add you, contact them through some other means (e.g. SE chat room, IM, whatever) and tell them to put something identifiable in the message that is attached with the friend request (as an aside, I've probably rejected a half-dozen requests made because my name was on the GSE list and I didn't recognize them) or check their numeric identifier afterwards (right-click name, "View Profile"):

    enter image description here

  2. Use RealID as Melini mentions. This is unique and will display their real name.

  3. Talk to/interact with your "friends" before blindly giving them stuff. If they're level 1, don't give them stuff for their or their "other friend's" "level 59 Witch Doctor". If you're worried about giving away level 1-20 stuff, the opportunity cost of simply talking with your "friend" is vastly higher than grinding mobs in Hell/Inferno. If they are level 50-60 somehow (dubious, see above), don't blindly give them a ton of gear. Hopefully your friend would be offering other gear in return as they happen across it.

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1  
What if someone I've already added to my friend's list account is compromised? Also, this completely ignores the question, and addresses only my motivation for asking it. Take that part away, and say I have two awesome, trustworthy friends who both like the same battle tag, how do I tell them apart, period? The UI doesn't provide the #XXXX information to me for my other friends when I click the friends list or we're in the same game. –  agent86 May 23 '12 at 12:34
    
@agent86 - What harm exactly can somebody do on a compromised account? –  Ramhound May 24 '12 at 11:24

Ok so there are basically two kinds of friends. realID friends and battletagfriends you add during a game. Most of my friends have their own name so you can see the battletag as well as the name they use as "private name"/realID. When you have two EliteD00d's you may be able to see their "private name" if one of them is a realID friend so EliteD00d#1 would be James for example. I cant imagine it to be very likely anyhow to have two guys with the same name. But your worries ingame should be easily fixed because the likeliness of the same RealID name as well as the charactername and level is pretty low and your friends will notice it when a lvl 51 barb named EliteD00d chats with them instead of your demonhunter. I guess you really have to piss someone off before they try to impersonate you ;)

Sorry if this is not the best technical answer but logic dictates you will never have those problems anyway and your RealID friends will know when it's not you.

EDIT: (Blizzards Answer from the Battle.net BattleTag™ FAQ) If my BattleTag isn't unique, what makes me uniquely identifiable? How will I know I'm adding the right friend to my friends list? Each BattleTag is automatically assigned a numeric BattleTag code, which combines with your chosen name to create a unique identifier (e.g. FallenSlayer#3592). Your BattleTag and code are viewable when you log in to Battle.net Account Management and within the Diablo III game client’s “Social” interface, and can be shared with other players who wish to send you a friend request manually. You will also be able to send BattleTag friend requests list within the context of a without knowing their BattleTag code -- by clicking a person’s BattleTag when they send you a message or group with you, for example. In either case, both players must agree to become BattleTag friends before either of you will be added to friends lists.

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RealID's aren't involved here at all. (I've never added someone via their RealID, and I don't think I'm going to give mine out or ask for someone else's). I understand that I can know my battle tag, and I understand how to use them. I'm asking how can I tell two people apart on my friends list or if they have the same "root" battle tag. I've added an example to my question that should aid in removing confusion. –  agent86 May 23 '12 at 17:06
    
@agent86 - The reason you are worried about two people with the same "root" battle tag is unclear. –  Ramhound May 24 '12 at 11:26

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