How to Avoid Software Scams: Common Online Scams & How to Spot Them
How to Avoid Software Scams
You may think online scams just happen to people who browse the internet on a regular basis, but they're everywhere. Online scams can be anything from malware to phishing emails. And they can happen to anyone.
So, it's important to know what you're looking for and how to avoid them.
This article will discuss tips that will help protect you from online scamming practices. We've included:
- Examples of common online scams,
- Ways to identify them in advance
- Suggestions on how to prevent yourself from ever coming across them
- How to get legitimate products like Microsoft Office from trusted vendors
Tips to Identify and Avoid Phishing Scams and other online scams
Online scammers are creative, and their schemes can be tailored to fit any situation. They might offer you the "perfect" deal, or someone may try to get in touch with you through an email that appears legitimate — but beware!
What is Phishing?
Phishing is one of the most common types of online scams we encounter in our daily lives. It involves a fake individual pretending to be from a well-known company attempting to lure a potential victim into revealing sensitive personal information, such as banking numbers, credit card details, account credentials, etc.
A good example of a phishing scam is the “Nigerian prince” - wishing to do some foreign currency transaction with a large sum of money as a reward.
And while this particular type of scheme is now seen more as a common joke, it’s still successfully at frauding people for almost a million dollars a year. Yet, these scams can be avoided with a few simple tips to ensure you’re not part of that statistic.
These are likely no-gooders looking for your hard-earned cash and personal information.
A few ways phishing scams and online scams happen include:
- False advertisements on legitimate websites such as Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and more. While this is highly unlikely to happen on its own, your computer may be infected by malware (specific adware) that displays scam ads.
- Sites that promise downloads for paid software for free, full movies and shows, and more. Advertisements here are not scanned and oftentimes lead to malware or other unwanted programs being installed onto your computer without permission, which may steal sensitive information like passwords!
- Pop-ups that seem like they might be from Microsoft or Apple present an urgent message about needing help on your computer. Scammers do this, so you'll call them back on the number provided in those pop-ups — but these numbers aren’t legit!
- Phonies may call you and pretend to work for Microsoft or Amazon so that they can offer services such as troubleshooting, refunds, or item returns. Before ever getting started, they’ll ask you to wire them advance payments via Western Union or MoneyGram first, or ask you for gift cards.
- Phishing techniques and other emails are often the leading cause for scams. A scammer may try to contact you with a promise of money in exchange for your banking details, or you may get an email from a fake company with a link attached. These emails try to trick you into giving out your details.
Scammers are always looking for a way in, but it turns out you can prevent them from getting your information by learning how they operate and recognizing potential signs.
How to recognize phishing scams and red flags in software sales online
The software industry is one that deals with high risks. Scams in this space can cost you hundreds, even thousands of dollars if you fall for a scheme.
They also risk your company losing revenue due to unreliable or infected programs performing poorly — making sure these types don't happen should always come first before clicking “buy now".
Several online scams exist to scam people in the software industry.
It’s important to be able to recognize when a website is trying to sell you illegitimate products. Once it happens, it's usually too late — the scammers gain access to all kinds of confidential information and may set you back hundreds of dollars.
You simply can't risk the costs of falling victim to any kind of software scam. Let’s take a look at how to recognize the ways you can be scammed when it comes to purchasing your software online.
1. Verify Sender’s Email Address
When you receive an email requesting you share financial or personal details, you need to check the sender’s email address. Be keen on inconsistencies, such as sending from a non-recognizable domain.
Most businesses, except a few small businesses, use their domain names; for example, [email protected].
If you notice the inconsistencies, do not open any link in the email or follow any of their directions.
2. Examine the website
A website can tell you if the company is legitimate or not. A poorly-written site with little content on it usually indicates fly-by software resellers who take your money and run.
Make sure to look out for these cues and red flags before handing over any funds:
- Poorly written content with an overflow of grammatical errors and misspellings
- No reliable contact information
- No secure payment methods (Credit and debit card, PayPal, etc.)
- “Not Secure” warning in the address bar
- Long, strange, or misspelled domain
- Unprofessional graphics
- Generic greetings instead of addressing a user’s specific name.
Verifying a website before giving them your information or purchasing something from them is always important, especially if all you know about the company is the name.
One way of doing that would be looking up contact details and seeing whether there are any reviews from people who have dealt with this particular business.
If you find yourself being bounced around from one website to another, it's probably part of the scam.
Check the address bar of your browser for any warnings and where links lead by looking at the URL. If there isn't anything reassuringly secure about either, proceed cautiously!
A good rule when dealing with websites: don't give out personal data unless absolutely necessary!
If you suspect that the website you’re on may be illegitimate, heading to a forum may help you. Search for posts regarding the website in question, or sign up for an account on Reddit or Quora to ask active users for any advice.
There’s one thing you can expect when buying any type of product: support. However, scam resellers don't provide this vital after-sale service.
Bootlegged or illegal software won't come with any help for installation issues. Legitimate software often does have resources available should anything go wrong during or after the setup process.
If a scammer successfully sold you bootlegged or illegal software, you’re likely to have issues that prevent you from using the software you’ve paid for. When you try to hold the company accountable, there’s no way to do it because they either don’t have contact information, or already ran off with your money.
When you buy software, the experience should not stop after your transaction. SoftwareKeep provides installation support and more for our customers so that you can enjoy using your purchase without any hurdles or issues getting in the way.
3. Beware of fake reviews
Scammers know what they need to do in order to seem legitimate and sell their fake software. Often, they’ll use services and fake accounts to leave made-up reviews on websites such as TrustPilot to gain your trust.
Luckily, you can spot fake reviews quite easily.
Ask yourself these questions while reading the reviews of a website:
- Do the reviews include specifics about the experience? The most helpful reviews are those that include specific details about your experience. If every review on a website is generic, or just copy-and-paste text with no input from the reviewer themselves it’s likely fake.
- Are the reviews spaced out realistically? When fake reviews are bought, they’re often sent in bulk on the same day. If a lot of 5-star reviews share the exact same date, they’re likely forged.
- Are the reviews fluent and readable? Websites and services that provide fake reviews are often looking for a quick buck themselves. Because of this, their reviews are often badly written, have poor grammar, and use odd formatting.
Just because a website has an unusually high number of 5-star reviews, doesn't mean it's good. If there are disproportionately many positive reviews relative to other resellers in that category, then you should be on guard for manipulation.
3. Refund and return policy
In order to avoid being tricked by scammers, it's important that you look for a clear policy for refunds and returns.
A website without these policies may give criminals an opportunity of which they'll take advantage if undetected: charging more than promised or stealing banking details from customers who trust them with payment methods on their site.
If there are no provisions in place regarding how much one can get back after purchasing something from the reseller, then this could mean someone is trying to exploit you.
A website with no policy for refunds and returns is a clear indication that they’re scammers. It goes without saying — always check refund policies before making any purchase!
The dangers of bootleg software
Buying bootleg software is a huge mistake. You want to make sure that what's on your computer is legal or not. We know — that the $5 activation key for Windows 10 looks great, but it’s most likely not going to work after a couple of weeks (or months if you’re lucky).
This goes for all other kinds of “too good to be true” deals.
You need to have a realistic outlook on how low the prices can get. Don't buy software online without verifying its authenticity first. Chances are high that the product won’t work as advertised.
You can never be too careful when it comes to buying software, especially if you want to avoid any legal hassles.
Even though bootleg copies may seem like an easy way out at first glance because they're cheap, there are some major legal downsides as well.
For example, Microsoft regularly audits establishments to check if licenses are legitimate. You may be fined more than your software is worth if any discrepancies are found.
This sets you back in money even if you got the software for cheap from a reseller that’s long gone by now.
Buy from a trusted website
SoftwareKeep specializes in selling legitimate software at the lowest prices possible. We work with other companies like Microsoft to bring you the best possible price with legitimate software and licenses.
However, our pricing isn’t just “too good-to-be true". We’re a trusted Microsoft partner — we can sell Microsoft Office products and other software at a good price, but never suspiciously low like bootleg apps and scammers.
Do you need a reliable software company with honest business practices? You can trust us. We are the Microsoft Certified Partner and BBB Accredited Business that cares about bringing our customers satisfaction with the products they need.
We’ll be there before, during, and after all sales!
Have a question? Contact us!
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