For new traders and CS: GO players, it can be really confusing how Steam Guard works. Steam’s documentation is fine but for those who are new, it’s not very intuitive what it means. Here is a quick guide on what restrictions these restrictions are and how they affect you.
What is Steam Guard?
Steam Guard is an additional layer of security for your account that Steam places to enhance how well fraud and theft are combated on the platform. With games as popular as Counter-Strike: Global Offensive and Team Fortress 2, there are bound to be some bad actors among the community who make trading a worse experience. Steam Guard was designed to combat these people. You can set up Steam Guard either through email or through the Mobile Authenticator, but these have different purposes.
The mobile authenticator is most secure because it uses two separate devices to work. This means that even if your computer is affected by malware and you lose access to your email, your mobile authenticator cannot be accessed. This means that your Steam inventory is safe for as long as you need to recover your private information.
What restrictions are placed on your account?
There are two basic types of restrictions. A trade hold means that once you authorize and accept a trade, the items are held by Steam for a specified time period till the trade is executed. The second is a complete suspension on any trades and community market listings for a specified number of days. There are loads of different situations where you may have to deal with these problems.
If you don’t have the Steam Mobile Authenticator activated, all of your trade items will be placed in a trade hold for at least 7 days. If you’ve been friends with the person you’re trading with for more than a year, this is reduced to just 1 day, which is still inconvenient. This restriction means that trading is almost impossible unless you have the authenticator set up, as trading is slowed down to a crawl.
If you cancel a trade that is in a trade hold after you have accepted it, your account will be suspended from trading for 7 days. Similarly, resetting your password will also block your access to the Steam Community Market and trades for at least 5 days. This restriction is longer if you haven’t logged into Steam for a while.
Overall, Steam Guard must be active for at least 15 days for you to be able to trade at all. When you log into a new device, you must wait seven days before you can use it to trade. Your other devices will work fine but even something like clearing your cookies or reinstalling your browser will trigger this. This won’t be a problem if you’re using the Mobile Authenticator though, as then you can confirm trades on your mobile app.
Even if you sign up for the mobile authenticator, existing trade holds are kept functioning and you’ll still have to deal with some restrictions in the first 7 days. For example, there is a 15-day trade hold for this time period. This is to prevent any other third party adding a misleading authenticator to your account. This allows you to recover your account before they can cause any harm to your inventory or account.
How Do I Set Up Steam Guard?
The first step is to verify the email address your using for your account. This is very easy as all you have to do is open the verification link that Steam sends you through email. Next, you need to download the Steam app for your smartphone. This app is available for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Once you’ve logged in, you can click the Steam Guard link in the application menu. Here you can add a new authenticator, as well as add a phone number to your Steam account. Steam will send a verification code to your phone through SMS. Once you paste this code, you can easily follow the rest of the on-screen instructions to activate the Mobile Authenticator.
What if I Don’t Have a Smartphone?
If you’re one of the holdouts still clinging to your feature phone, unfortunately, Steam provides no alternative to the Mobile Authenticator. You can find third party services such as Jessecar96’s SteamDesktopAuthenticator on GitHub but we wouldn’t recommend this as this is much less secure and leaves you vulnerable.
That should be enough to get you started with trading but if you have any additional questions, feel free to leave a comment or contact us.