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The most popular VPN scams to watch out for in 2022

Scam VPNs loudly promote lifetime subscriptions and free VPNs or promise 100% anonymity. These might seem tempting, but you should remain vigilant. The truth is that seemingly reliable VPNs can leak sensitive data because they secretly log and sell it to third parties. Not only will you lose money, but you will also put yourself at unnecessary risk. Familiarize yourself with the worst VPN scams and learn how to protect yourself.

Aurelija Einorytė

Aurelija Einorytė

The most popular VPN scams to watch out for in 2022

Are VPNs a scam?

A VPN, or virtual private network, is a legitimate service providing security for your private data. But falling for a VPN scam and buying fake or insecure services from suspicious parties could have the opposite result and lead to a data breach.

Scams work in numerous ways, but the goal is always to deceive, extort money, or steal property or data. With the VPN market expanding rapidly, scammers increasingly want to make a buck.

Untrustworthy VPNs might sell your data to third parties and advertisers, provide little to no protection, or even inject malware into your devices. That is why it's essential to familiarize yourself with common VPN scams. Don't kiss your money goodbye; research before you purchase, and learn to make educated choices.

VPN scams come in many different disguises, but below are the most popular ones used by cybercriminals in 2022.

1. Lifetime VPN subscriptions

When researching VPN options, you may find providers offering lifetime services for a one-off fee. Sounds like a great offer? Don't be fooled. A lifetime VPN is an empty promise because maintaining fast and secure worldwide VPN servers requires resources and recurring revenue. Product development, VPN network maintenance, deploying new security features, and fully supporting users are far from cheap.

A lifetime subscription puts your sensitive data and wallet at risk. Not only will you not get the desired protection, but your lifetime VPN can disappear at any time. Let's take a closer look:

  • Fake VPN providers usually exploit their users' data; they collect and sell it to third parties. Unfortunately, this widespread practice is behind most fake or free VPN services.
  • A “lifetime” subscription doesn't necessarily mean your lifetime. It usually refers to the lifetime of the company. You will be left with nothing when the company goes bankrupt or shuts down. Moreover, there have been cases where scam companies cancel lifetime subscriptions and replace them with recurring annual contracts.
  • If a VPN website is bombarding you with ads or redirecting you to other sites, it's worth checking if the service is legitimate. It receives commissions on sales.
  • The purpose of a lifetime subscription is to steal your money. The software may seem genuine initially, but after a few months of operation, the system may start to slow down, leak data, and cause privacy issues.

2. Shady free VPN services

Many providers offer free services on the VPN market, but some have ulterior motives. A free VPN is one of the most popular and dangerous VPN scams. Free VPN providers might log and sell your data, track your online activity, and function poorly.

Remember – the company does need revenue to maintain the product. If you don't pay the VPN directly, it will find ways to make money by exploiting your data and resources:

  • Data collection is a free VPN's primary business model. Free VPNs may log user data and sell it to third parties who bombard you with ads and spam.
  • Many free VPNs inject malware and spyware into their users' devices and track their online activities.
  • Even if it claims otherwise, a free VPN features questionable safety and security solutions and may not encrypt your data.
  • Some free VPNs steal your bandwidth and sell it to third parties without your consent.

Don't put your sensitive data at risk, never purchase a free VPN service from obscure websites, and try NordVPN risk free with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

3. No-logs policies

It is easy for a VPN provider to wave the no-logs flag. However, both legitimate and fake VPNs claim to provide logless services, so it's hard to tell who is lying and who is telling the truth. The best way to avoid a VPN scam is to carefully read the fine print and service contract. You may find some dubious and sketchy statements that expose fraud.

A good look at the privacy policy of a fake VPN may reveal that the VPN logs your online activity, IP address, banking credentials, and Social Security data while connected to the server. That defeats the whole point of a VPN.

If you find a statement on the VPN website that it collects some data, don't get discouraged straight away. The fine print will most likely identify logging statistical information necessary to improve the quality of services and by no means related to user traffic. To be extra careful, you can always choose a VPN provider that uses RAM-based servers to ensure it doesn't store your information.

Another critical point to pay attention to is the VPN's country of origin. Read VPN privacy policies based on 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance locations with particular care. These countries are obliged to provide the requested data to authorities.

4. Fake VPNs

Only a fake VPN is worse than a free VPN. Fake VPN websites are eye catching, so they quickly gain consumers' trust. However, the reality is less favorable; there is no VPN to download, or the software is malicious.

If you accidentally fall victim to a scammer, you will open the door to a world of trouble. A fake VPN provides malicious software that infiltrates your device to collect sensitive data. This way, scammers may easily get your private information, such as your password, user information, bank account details, Social Security data, and online traffic, which they will use for financial gain. What's more, fake VPNs may inject malware, producing a botnet allowing others to freely use your internet bandwidth without permission.

Fake VPN services promise complete anonymity and unbreakable protection but provide zero protection, and then take your money and run. Such companies have no VPN, display ambiguous privacy policies, and have no customer service you can turn to for a refund.

5. Fake reviews, awards, comments, and testimonials

The VPN seems new, and you've never heard of it, yet millions are already reporting how amazing it is. Most of the time, it's the VPN company itself trying to shamelessly promote its fishy business by publishing fake reviews and testimonials. It will abuse the Google Play Store or Apple App Store, social media, Reddit, and comments sections to trick you.

You will meet hundreds whose lies are paid for by the VPN company you are trying to evaluate. None of these reviews are of an actual product but merely a marketing ploy. The content of a genuine review is more likely to point out both the pros and cons instead of indiscriminately praising the VPN.

Carefully assess VPN reviews on the Apple and Android App stores. However, note that the testimonials may be fake and composed by the VPN supplier itself. Just like reviews on a VPN website, most of them are biased. To evaluate a VPN service properly, look for websites providing thorough and impartial VPN reviews. Testing plenty of VPNs, cybersecurity experts deliver detailed analyses, share real-life VPN experiences, and discuss the pros and cons of the service. The research will allow you to assess the legitimacy of a VPN and choose the most suitable option.

6. Unsubstantiated claims

Phony VPNs often overstate their benefits and claim to be the best, most reliable, or fastest VPN in history. Such statements are usually worth a second check. Fake providers will seemingly offer the highest level of protection, a no-logs policy, no IP leaks, eye-watering speeds, and additional features to improve your experience. Unfortunately, you will often find these claims to be unsubstantiated.

Most of these statements are just a marketing gimmick to extort money from you, while cybersecurity takes a back seat. All you get is a headache: data leaks, buffering, and interruptions while online. The malfunctions are both frustrating and a threat to your online security.

7. Beware of unsecure VPN providers

To choose a secure VPN secure VPN provider, always read the product description to ensure the services are genuine and safe. Pay attention to the provider's website encryption and VPN protocols.

If the VPN website uses HTTP instead of HTTPS protection, that's a red flag. The critical difference is that HTTPS encrypts your data, while anyone can see the information you provide on an HTTP website. If a VPN website claiming to use the highest level of security is unsecure, how can we be sure that the service is genuine?

VPN protocols are important because they provide safety and speed to your online communications. A protocol is a framework for how your data will be packed and sent over VPN tunnels, so check the VPN provider's protocols. A legitimate VPN should offer secure encryption ciphers such as OpenVPN or IKEv2/IPSec.

8. Cracked VPN accounts

A cracked VPN is a virtual private network account or software sold in shady corners of the internet. Scammers promise free or much cheaper premium service than the official VPN website advertises. And that's where the “fun” begins.

First, the reseller may have illegally obtained the cracked VPN account and stolen it from users who have paid for their subscriptions. The accounts are genuine, but they already have an owner, making them neither safe, legal, or ethical to use. If the actual account holder changes their password, you won't be able to access your newly purchased account anymore.

Usually, to get a cracked VPN, you'll need to download an unverified file or click on a link in a forum thread, which unwittingly puts your data at risk and can compromise your system. Moreover, you'll likely download adware and clog your computer with pop-up ads. Remember – a VPN crack is far from a VPN but closer to malware invading your privacy and taking your data without authorization.

You'll find plenty of online sites offering free or cheap cracked NordVPN accounts. But the truth is no VPN at all is better than a cracked one. It won't give you the expected protection or privacy, and you'll only risk leaking your sensitive data. If you're still hesitant about purchasing NordVPN, here's a reminder that we offer a 30-day money-back guarantee. An original account doesn't cost much, so get a reputable service and don't waste your time. A NordVPN crack is not a viable option.

9. VPNs that require too much personal information

VPNs are necessary for privacy and protection because we leave bits of data behind when we browse. Besides scattering the information around on the internet unknowingly, in some cases, we enter it into unreliable websites ourselves without suspecting fraud. Scammers then take advantage of our gullibility.

If a VPN website asks you to enter your precise home address, phone number, or even Social Security number during the subscription checkout process, run away and don't look back. Legitimate VPNs will most likely require only your email address and credit card details. However, if you don't want to share your credit card information, look for a VPN provider offering anonymous payment methods, such as prepaid gift cards or cryptocurrency.

VPNs that collect too much personal information upon registration are far from what you seek. The easiest way to protect your data from scammers is not to share it.

Is NordVPN a scam?

Simply put, NordVPN is not a scam. On the contrary, it is one of the most reliable products on the market, with a strong focus on product development, security features, and customer service. NordVPN is a safe VPN provider that doesn't track your online activity.

Alongside VPN traffic protection, many other features ensure a high level of online security.

  • Threat Protection is a security feature that keeps you safe when browsing and protects you from malware and trackers. It scans your files before downloading them and blocks malicious content before it reaches your device.
  • Meshnet, another feature, builds an encrypted channel between two devices that use NordVPN. You can link up to 60 devices and have a multi-player gaming party with your friends from any corner of the world. Or access your files on any of your devices while traveling.
  • Dark Web Monitor continuously scans the dark web and will notify you about any exposed personal data so you can take proper action.
  • NordVPN offers an option to use VPN server chaining, or multi-hop, to hide your activity behind two servers instead of one and ensure an even safer journey to your destination.

Still not convinced? Take a look at our review page presenting NordVPN benefits in detail, or turn to customer support, which is available 24/7 and ready to answer any questions.

Only buy NordVPN accounts via an official website or trusted retailers. Do not fall victim to cheap accounts available in various online forums, and learn how to spot and avoid NordVPN scams. Educating yourself is the best way to protect your sensitive data against cybercriminals.

How to protect yourself from VPN scams

Here are some tips on how to choose a reliable VPN service and not fall victim to scams:

  • Don't fall for lifetime subscriptions. Scam companies selling lifetime VPNs will either sell your data to third parties, bombard you with ads, impede your browsing, or vanish beyond the horizon.
  • Avoid free VPNs. Simply put, a first-rate VPN service will not be free. Invest in a trustworthy VPN, and don't worry about your data and wallet security. Choose top-tier VPN providers that guarantee online security, fast performance, and a reliable global network. The service doesn't have to break the bank either – reliable VPNs are available at reasonable prices.
  • Research before purchasing a subscription. Thoroughly investigate VPN privacy policies, and look for grammar or spelling mistakes and inconsistencies in the document. Reliable VPNs communicate transparently, have customer support and a history of good performance, and speak openly about the consistent protection they provide. Don't entirely count on Google search when conducting research. Avoid VPN scams by finding a trusted review website with skilled online security experts to help you compare the VPNs on the market.
  • Never give out your personal information. Avoid VPNs that require too much personal data, such as a precise home address, phone number, or Social Security details. Remember – the less you share, the safer you are.
  • Pay attention to a VPN's country of origin. You might want to avoid VPNs from 5/9/14 Eyes Alliance locations. These countries include the USA, the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and many other European countries.
  • Check the VPN's functionality. Investigate if its main security features, such as kill switch, split tunneling, and ad blocker, work. Always read the fine print to ensure independent parties verify its security functionality. Play it safe!

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Aurelija Einorytė
Aurelija Einorytė Aurelija Einorytė
Always attentive to technology's latest advancements, Aurelija Einorytė develops content to improve the safety of readers' internet experience. She believes everyone has the right to know the ins and outs of cybersecurity and seeks to explain them in an accessible, understandable way.