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7 VPN Scams You Need to Avoid in 2021

7 VPN Scams You Need to Avoid in 2021


Were you a victim of a VPN scam?

With the growing interest in online privacy and security, new VPN services appear every week, promising 100% online anonymity and a “safe and private” browsing experience. And of course, you will find a lot of fake reviews on “best VPN” websites to tell you that they are legit.

Unfortunately, I found out that many VPNs mislead people with false marketing claims, selling scams, and various scams. And since VPNs are often located in offshore jurisdictions, they will likely never be charged for dishonest marketing and/or outright fraud.

Since most people don’t know what to watch out for, many of them fall victim to common VPN scams.

But you are smarter than that.

Here are seven issues to avoid:

1. Lifetime VPN Subscriptions

Running a fast, secure, and secure network of VPN servers around the world with good apps and support is expensive with fixed and recurring costs.

Given these exorbitant costs, how can so many VPNs offer cheap “lifetime subscriptions?”

There are several different explanations:

  1. ‘Free’ or ‘cheap’ VPN is Collecting and selling user data to third parties and advertisers. This is a popular and profitable business – and most likely the business model behind most free VPNs.
  2. VPN Blasts You advertisements or Redirects your browser To third-party sites – then you earn commissions on sales.
  3. The ‘lifetime’ claim is a lie and they will simply cancel your ‘lifetime’ subscription after a year or two (see VPNLand example below).
  4. A VPN is similar to the Ponzi scheme, which requires an increasing number of new subscribers to remain financially manageable, until the house of cards collapses.

minimum: “Age” actually refers to The lifetime of the VPN company – Not the customer. After selling a large amount of lifetime subscriptions, the owners can simply make their payments to themselves and then close the business. Buyer awareness.

Some VPNs simply cancel all “lifetime subscriptions” and convert these accounts to paid recurring subscriptions. Here is one example I found with VPNLand, which no longer works (as of 2021):

No surprises here.

According to a user, he got the following response after he complained:

Just for your information. A “lifetime” account does not mean that it will be valid until someone dies. It can be anyone’s age – like a cat, or a machine’s age.

Don’t fall into the lifelong VPN scam trap.

2. Free VPNs

Why are there so many free VPNs?

Answer: Free VPN services are used as a tool to collect your data and resell it to third parties. Most people focus on the word “free” and ignore the risks.

Just like with Gmail, Facebook and other free products/services, free VPNs are just another way for businesses to make money off your private data. Data collection is the core business model.

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Example: This free VPN app is called “VPN Master – Free VPN Proxy” and it is officially listed on Google Play Store. Note that it has a high rating (4.5) and about 100,000 downloads.

However, the “VPN Master – Free VPN Proxy” app also has Eight positive hits of malware.

Here are the test results from VirusTotal:

This free VPN also comes with a lot of free malware.

extra note: That’s why you should Never trust reviews On Google Play and Apple Stores.

Free VPN apps make money by:

  • Stealing your data (by malware, spyware, tracking, logging, etc.) and reselling it to third parties
  • Redirect your browser to “partner” sites, such as e-commerce or financial sites
  • Stealing your bandwidth and reselling it to third parties (see Hola in VPN Warning List)

As the saying goes, there is no such thing as a free lunch. Or better yet, when something is free, you are the product.

On the plus side, a VPN subscription also doesn’t have to break the bank. There are a number of cheap VPNs to choose from – but choose carefully.

There are also free trial VPN services to consider as well (try it before you buy).

3. Shady Free VPN Apps

Overall, free VPN apps have proven to be problematic in terms of privacy and security. Recently, there has been news about free VPN apps in the Google Play Store that are “designed to deliver financial malware” to unsuspecting victims. Although there are a few exceptions, the vast majority of free VPN apps you find on Google Play or Apple Stores are considered dangerous and unsafe.

One team of researchers published a study Among the free Android VPN apps I found:

  • 84% will leak your real IP address
  • 82% have tried to access your sensitive data (user accounts, text messages)
  • 75% use 3rd party tracking
  • 38% contain malware (malware, trojans, malicious ads, dangerous software, spyware) to steal or damage your information
  • 18% do not even encrypt your data
  • 16% steal user bandwidth

When you look closely at the growing VPN app scam, what’s even scarier is that many of the most malware-infested apps are rated highly. This means that there are millions of people using VPNs that contain malware and tracking. This is especially the case for free VPN apps – see the review for Betternet or VPN Master.

Noticeable: Even some paid VPNs are mentioned in the study. We covered it in our Hotspot Shield review, as this VPN had tracking libraries in the Android app.

4. Fake VPNs

With the growing interest in VPNs, fake VPNs are also appearing in the market. In other words, there is no VPN service at all – scammers sell “VPN subscriptions” and then take your money and run it. It was one such example MySafeVPN – But there are other examples, too.

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In general, it’s smart to avoid the new VPNs flocking to the market, promising to make you “anonymous” to their software.

If a VPN service does not have a track record of good performance and support, it will likely be avoided.

5. Fake VPN Claims and False Features

The VPN market is full of false claims. Here are some common examples:

  • no records – There are a lot of VPN service providers that claim to be “no logs” or “no logs” VPN services, but then carefully disclose the “collected” information on their terms. Examples include Betternet and PureVPN. Always read the finer details (Privacy Policy). See our VPN Logs guide for a crash course on this topic.
  • The “fastest” VPN Many VPN services claim to be the “world’s fastest VPN”. Of course this is just marketing, as many VPNs have very modest speeds (usually because their servers are overloaded with users).
  • IP address “leakage protection” features Lots of VPNs are promoting many leak protection features that don’t actually work. The only way to check the features is to run the VPN through a variety of VPN tests and checks.

This is one example from our PureVPN review. Note the DNS leaks:

Keep scam radar on high alert when reading the claims and features on the different VPN sites.

New VPN services are introduced every week and dozens of fake reviews to tell you it’s amazing.

Over the years, I’ve seen many VPN providers bombard forums, comment sections, and social media platforms with fake reviews of their products. This trend has been going on for years and doesn’t seem to be going away.

It also seems that there are armies of paid commenters who defend how great certain VPNs are, especially when someone posts something negative. It’s a good idea to be careful about everything you read online when it comes to VPNs, including:

  • Reviews
  • Testimonials – Recommendations
  • comments

Keep in mind that many VPN “ratings” are not based on actual testing. These reviews are not reviews at all, but are instead just paid marketing slogans.

There have also been VPN review sites that have been discovered promoting the VPNs they own. Conversely, there are also VPNs that own the review sites…

7. VPN-owned “review” sites

Would you trust the movie review written by the movie director himself? How about a book review written by the book author? Perhaps the answer to these questions is no, because there is a file Clear conflict of interest In these cases. So why do we find so many VPN “review” sites owned by VPNs?

All the way back in 2017, I explained how some “VPN review” sites might be powered by the VPN services themselves. Well, that prediction has come true. Below are two examples where the Review site and the VPN are owned by the same company.

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PCMag’s parent company (J2 Global) is buying VPNs to include StrongVPN and now IPVanish. They recommend IPVanish in some of their “best VPN” guides, a trend I first reported on in 2017. PCMag is a large publisher of digital content and owns many different websites discussing VPNs.

I wrote a report on this issue in 2021 after a major player in the VPN industry purchased a bunch of review sites, then immediately changed recommendations. In this case, the parent company was Kape . Technologies, which owns CyberGhost, Private Internet Access, and Zenmate VPN. Kape made news when it bought a company called Webselenese, which operates vpnMentor and Wizcase, two prominent VPN review sites.

Shortly after the purchase, I pointed out how by chance the VPN ratings had changed, with Kape Technologies’ VPNs (PIA and CyberGhost) gaining a rating boost. This is the top of the vpnMentor website, which describes the new ownership if you click on the “property” link:

There are other examples of this in the industry, some documented and some not. Do you think this is a VPN scam, a questionable practice, or a perfectly acceptable business? I’ll let you be the judge.

8. Third Party Selling Sites

There seems to be a huge market right now for third parties selling lifetime VPN subscriptions. these among men It should generally be avoided.

This trend raises some questions:

  • Why would you trust your private information and bank details to third party sales websites?
  • Why does a VPN service partner with third-party websites to offer ‘sales’ or ‘lifetime subscriptions’?

This is something we noted in our Windscribe review, even though the VPN no longer sells these types of subscriptions.

It is best to avoid middlemen and third party websites. Purchase your subscription directly from the VPN company itself.

I’ve also seen examples of VPNs that cancel all lifetime subscriptions that were Purchased through third parties. When the user complains, neither the VPN company nor the third-party sales site have any responsibility.

My recommendation: only deal with your VPN directly, No third parties.

Watch out for VPN scams in 2021

At the end of the day, a quality VPN service will not be free and will not resort to various tricks to increase its sales numbers. It will also be transparent and should have a proven track record of providing good service to people.

If you’ve finished reading about scams and want to see some high-quality VPNs that have passed all the privacy and security tests (and fall in good privacy jurisdictions), check out our overview of the best VPN services.

You can also browse our page which lists all the VPN reviews we’ve had over the years (the good and the bad).

Last updated and revised on June 14, 2021.

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