On today’s Internet, scams are everywhere. And I mean everywhere. One needs to learn about them to stay safe continually.
The VPN industry is not an exception, and we have seen quite a few different apps that claim to promise 100% anonymity. Better yet, they are offering their service for free.
Too good to be true? It surely is, and don’t call me Surely. 🙂
In this article, we’ll explore a few of the most popular VPN-related scams we believe you must know about. But first, we must emphasize one thing…
VPNs are not a scam
A VPN is a legitimate service providing security for your data. However, like any other service on today’s Internet, it invites scammers.
Just think about it for the moment. There are Amazon-, Google-, Microsoft- and Apple-related scams. And the same goes for pretty much any major corporation or a popular service. Scammers are trying to take advantage of anything that is used by millions of users. Cause at least a percentage of all those users could be their victims.
Then again, VPN scams are somewhat specific as you may end up with a company that provides a VPN service but also serves you ads, spies on you, or even installs malware on your device. Yes, it can be a scary world out there, and that’s why you should get a VPN from reputable companies only. You know, the ones that have been in this market for years.
So without further ado, here are the most common VPN scams:
1. Lifetime VPNs
This may sound like a dream come true. Buy once and never look back. And in reality – it is possible if you set up your own VPN server. Otherwise, do not be fooled by ads offering lifetime subscriptions to a VPN.
To put it simply, there is no solid business model in such an offering, and sooner or later, the company providing such claims (of a lifetime subscription) will do one of the following things (or more of them):
- It will serve you ads across websites you visit
- It will spy on what you’re doing online and later sell that data
- It will install software on your device(s)
- It could even infect your device(s) with a malware
In most, if not all, cases of lifetime subscriptions, it is a fake VPN service that wants to harm you — rather than provide you with a useful service.
2. Free VPNs
Similar to the previous point, a company offering a free VPN service will try to make money in some other way — other than a subscription.
There are VPNs offering a free, albeit limited tier and those with a free trial offer. That is just part of their marketing strategy, as they are still offering more powerful paid plans. And there is nothing wrong with this.
offering advertising 100% free VPN service are scams. It’s that simple. Or they are bundled with a bigger package, of which a VPN is just one piece of the puzzle.
As we’ve said before, running a VPN costs real money, and if you’re not paying for the product – you are the product. So avoid such free VPNs at all costs.
3. Fake VPNs
This is a broader umbrella term that includes free VPNs offering lifetime subscriptions, as well as those that aren’t really offering a VPN service at all.
We have seen (mostly mobile) apps promising to offer a private browsing experience with “the power of a VPN,” and in reality, they aren’t doing anything of that sort. Instead, they just show you a browser window and start mining for you data in the background and sending it to a server.
Worse yet, they may install malware on the user’s device and potentially cause havoc by encrypting it and making it unusable without a password.
The general rule of thumb is – if it looks too good to be true, chances are that is indeed the case.
4. Unaudited no-logs policies
Many VPNs claim to offer a no-logs (or zero-logs) service, but a few have proven such claims with an independent audit. The best VPNs have done so, and we love them for that. And we trust them for that. And, even more, we recommend them to our readers for that.
Saying something is no-logs is easy, providing is harder and costs real money — with auditing companies charging hefty fees to go through VPN’s infrastructure to check the claims a VPN is making.
There is no reason to settle for a shady service when you can get the real deal — a VPN whose no-logs policy has been audited by a reputable third party — for just a few dollars per month.
5. Unsubstantiated claims
Related to the previous point, a VPN is making claims that is the best thing since sliced bread, but there is little to no proof of those claims. It is easy to write anything, but proving it takes some time.
For instance, the best VPNs have been tested and reviewed by the most respected tech publications in the world, and you can find articles about their services on those websites.
In contrast, a fake VPN could just place logos of major media outlets like they have covered their product and love it (there are 5-star reviews). Then, when you visit those media outlets, you cannot find anything related to that (fake) VPN.
This is common for different kinds of claims, such as those related to the speed of a VPN, server count, no-logs policies, and so on.
Your best defense against this is to do your due-diligence and double-check a VPN before signing up.
6. Cracked VPN accounts
There is a marketplace for everything online, including cracked VPN accounts.
Users sell these because most VPN providers allow users to run a VPN across multiple devices, enabling two users to rely on a single VPN. That is a theory and is against every VPN user agreement (EULA). At any moment, the VPN provider could block these accounts as they are not complying with the rules. And is therefore illegal.
Therefore, this isn’t something anyone should be doing, as it could hurt them financially in the end.
7. VPNs requiring too much personal information
The way we see things, a VPN is primarily a tool that lets us protect our privacy on the Internet. So why on Earth would some of these services require a ton of personal information is beyond me.
A few years back, even some of the reputable VPNs did this, but today – the situation is very different. None of these top VPNs require much personal information to start using the service.
So, if you see a VPN asking for many personal details, chances are – it is a scam.
How to avoid VPN scams
Get the best VPN service money could buy. It’s not like it’s going to cost a fortune, quite the contrary. Even those VPNs that would be considered to be the best cost just a few dollars per month when you sign-up for a two- or three-year plan.
Not sure where you can find those? Worry not, we have your back – hop over to our page with the Best of the Best VPNs and take it from there. All services on that page have been field tested for years and will have your back no matter what you throw at them.
So, if you still haven’t got yourself a VPN – now’s the time to change that. Visit this page and take it from there. And feel free to thank us later. 😉