Personal VPN protection is a huge market. However, that also means that are a number of scams and shady VPNs as well. It can certainly be hard to tell the difference at times between those and ones that are legitimate. You can bet that there are always people willing to take advantage of the situation, especially if the user is just a casual user. That is why in this guide we will go over several things to look for, tell you what to avoid, and teach you how to recognize VPN scams and avoid shady VPNs.
Let’s look at the VPN scams. Of course, these are tactics used by some less reputable companies.
This one is a big no no if you are trying to protect your privacy. As the expression says “there is no free lunch”. The companies that offer free VPNs are not doing so out of the kindness of their heart. Instead, they are most likely using the information provided to them as a data collection tool so they can re-sell the information. If you are searching for a VPN provider to help protect your privacy, you aren’t helping yourself at all. Additionally, don’t be surprised if free VPNs contain malware, spyware, adware, or even outright viruses. Even if the VPN provider has a high rating on Google Play or Apple, you will definitely want to stay away from them.
These types of services do not actually have VPN service. Instead, the crooks will take your money while offering to make you anonymous and selling you a “VPN subscription”. If the “VPN company” is new and does not have a history, track record, or even support, it is one you will want to steer clear of.
Bogus VPN Claims
- Fastest VPN – Watch out for this claim. While many companies claim that their service is the fastest, you still have to deal with encryption speeds. The truth is, protection will slow you down. It also depends on the number of users a service has and number of servers they have. You may encounter mediocre speeds because of these factors, so often times, the fastest VPN claim is just marketing.
- IP Leak Protection Features – Luckily, this one is easy to test through various websites. In this case, the provider may not actually be protecting you from IP leak. Keep in mind that there is at least one major company that claims they have leak protection. However, when you test it, you will quickly see that you are not protected, even with all of the settings enabled.
- No Logs – This point is sensitive to many users. Many VPN companies claim this feature, but if you look at the fine print, you will find that many actually keep logs. They may not be activity logs, but they are definitely connection logs. If the companies really want to see where you are going online, they still can. Some companies, however, refuse to turn over any information to stay in line with this claim.
- You Can Be “Anonymous” Online – Yes and no. You can never be 100% anonymous online. You are still using the company’s servers. With the way things are tracked currently, it is extremely difficult to be 100% anonymous when online. If you want to get as close as possible, however, using a multi-hop VPN system and taking privacy practice steps will help you do that.
Fake Reviews, Testimonials, and Comments
Often times, users do not realize is that some of the VPN review sites are either unscrupulous or owned by the VPN companies themselves. Some testimonials and comments are from paid sources. You will see this if someone posts something negative about one of the services. It is an attempt to balance out negative comments with good ones. If you see a review site promoting a VPN service that is not well-known, and they seem to be the only ones really promoting it, they may be closely affiliated with the company.
Just like with some of the other issues, this claim is one you should watch out for. If the company offers a lifetime subscription, you may wish to steer clear of it. That is because it does take money to maintain the networks, secure them, and add new features. For the company to stay in business, it has to make money some how. By having a lifetime subscription, you eliminate the company’s way of making money and maintaining the level of security that you need. It is not sustainable.
Shady VPN Applications
Even if the VPN you want to use is not free, it does not mean you are safe when using it. A fairly recent report basically states that if you are not using a well-known VPN, that you will likely encounter security issues. The stats are as follows.
- 75% utilize third-party tracking.
- 18% don’t even encrypt your data.
- 84% will leak your real IP address.
- 82% attempt to access your sensitive data (user accounts, text messages, etc. There is no need for the provider to have this information.
- 38% contain malware (malware, trojans, malvertising, riskware, spyware) to steal or damage your information.
- 16% steal user bandwidth.
As you can see, you may end up causing yourself more harm than good by using a shady VPN option.
Beware of VPN Scams
If you are looking into VPN services, there are a few things you need to look for. Reputable and high quality VPN companies will not need to use gimmicks to boost their sales. They will also be transparent and have a solid track record in the community. Another thing to pay attention to is where the company is located. Be sure to check if it is located in one of the 14 Eyes countries. If it is, you may wish to steer clear of that one as well.