The only unfortunate thing about the modern world of the internet is that very few things are as they seem.
And if humanity ever needed tools such as VPN services and antivirus programs then it is probably now.
Privacy has become a mainstream issue.
So much so that a potential presidential candidate recently came out in the media vowing to break up the monopolies of Google, Amazon, and Facebook.
That, of course, is not going to stop technology giants from further eroding the privacy of their users.
Various publications dealing with privacy and security have long recommended that if someone is doing something sensitive on the internet then he/she needs a VPN service.
You do not need us to tell you that you need a VPN service as well.
Another unfortunate thing we want to talk about is the quality of VPN service providers available in the industry.
There are simply not enough good ones.
In fact, the majority of VPN service providers actually do not do what they advertise to do.
And you need to stay away from such kinds of VPN service providers.
Moreover, it is not just the current stream of VPN service providers themselves who are lacking in their quality.
Smart DNS proxy services and antivirus programs are also falling into the same trap of promising more than what they can deliver.
But we’re not here to talk about that.
We’re here to talk about VPN service providers that are disingenuous with their customers.
Let’s take a look at the six worst offenders when it comes to VPN scams and entities that are simply bad for the VPN industry as a whole.
We’ll also talk a little bit about measures you can take in order to not get scammed online by VPN services and otherwise.
VPN Scam: The Lifetime offer
Perhaps the most obvious thing that comes close to a VPN scam is the lifetime offer that a lot of VPN service providers have started to offer.
It is one of our biggest gripes with the VPN industry at the moment.
But what is the lifetime offer?
It is essentially a VPN account which allows users to pay for their services one single time.
And after they have paid the money, they get access to the VPN service in question forever.
Now, the thing about forever is that it never ends.
Practically speaking, forever is a pretty long time.
It should not take anyone to go and study economics and mathematics to figure out that anyone who is trying to sell you a service which by its nature requires a constant stream of funding, for all time to come with a single one-time payment is doing something that is not even remotely sustainable.
The only good thing we can say here is that elite VPN service providers have started to notice this and have abandoned this sale tactic.
However, there are still many VPN service providers that promise users a lifetime of VPN service for a single one-time payment.
We hope that this tactic continues to go by the wayside.
On that note, we also hope that you do not need more convincing to finally understand that lifetime VPN accounts are not that dissimilar to various online pyramid schemes.
VPN services need to survive.
And to survive the need to have a rather constant supply of new and old customers who will continue to pay for the privacy service that they are offering.
Because of the fact that the VPN industry is actually a hyper-competitive industry, as soon as a VPN service provider realizes that its signups are dipping below a certain point, it has no choice but to suffer until the time comes for it to finally close up shop.
If not that, then the VPN service offering a lifetime account would make use of some obscure and hard to find terms and conditions stuff that you, in all fairness, did not read when you signed up for the lifetime account, to suddenly tell you that the VPN service is going to restrict your account to a slightly shorter period of time.
Some even go as far ahead as terminating the account because of the fact that the VPN service provider is going out of business.
So what is our recommendation?
We recommend that you should sign up for either the 1-year deal or the 2-year deal with any given VPN service provider.
These deals usually allow you to take advantage of the biggest discounts that any VPN service provider is likely to give you.
Most of all, a 1-year plan or a 2-year plan would come without all the risks which are associated with 10-year accounts or lifetime accounts.
VPN Scam: Free VPN service
We are totally aware of the fact that it is very tempting to sign up for a VPN service that is free.
After all, you are getting a great privacy tool and you do not have to pay for it.
However, let’s just take a moment here to consider the ramifications of signing up with a VPN service that is free.
If it was indeed possible to run a VPN service without any maintenance costs and then offer the service for free to users then why would a ton of other VPN services do the same as well?
People running different VPN services would not have taken long to switch to the free model if the free model indeed allowed them to provide users with a truly private VPN service.
It is simply not possible nor practical that so many good VPN service providers haven’t understood the fact that they can offer their services for free.
Maybe you think that VPN service providers that ask you for money do so because they want to make huge profits rather than reasonable profits.
We are here to tell you that it is simply impossible for any VPN service to continue its operations without any kind of money.
To turn a legitimate VPN service or business, you need to take care of a lot of infrastructure costs.
We are talking about things such as bandwidth and VPN servers.
These cost a lot of money.
Let’s also mention the staff VPN services have to hire in order to keep running a smooth VPN service along with all the marketing people.
VPN services are a business.
And just like any regular business, they have a lot of running costs that they have to make up for someway or somehow from somewhere.
Now, if that same VPN service is free then you have a ton of reasons to stop and ask yourself some questions.
You should first ask yourself how in the world your favorite VPN service provider is managing to actually pay for each and everything that we have mentioned so far.
While doing that you also need to question how your FREE VPN service is running a business that costs so much, for free.
But since you are reading this guide, you will not have to ask yourself such questions for too long.
We want to let you in on a simple secret/answer.
Free VPN service providers make use of a rather large range of various monetization tactics.
We’re talking about tactics such as,
- Monitoring and then selling their customers’ usage data
- Injecting various pieces of information in the user’s connection
And a whole lot more to do nothing but generate more revenue for their business.
So what is our recommendation?
Our recommendation is that while you will have to part ways with a few dollars by signing up for a paid VPN service provider each given month, you will at least have protection from sketchy and free VPN service providers.
Use free VPN service providers only when you do not care about privacy or security and just want to unblock some website or streaming service.
VPN Scam: Fake VPN reviews
All you have to do is take a look at the first page of Google and the advertisements on it to know that similar to how we have iffy VPN service providers, we also have a whole set of questionable VPN review sites.
Security Gladiators is a site that is run completely independently.
And we do not have any kind of affiliation with any given VPN service that we have reviewed or is available in the market.
And while we do make an effort to earn a small commission if our readers generously sign up to a given VPN service that we have recommended via our links, readers are always free to do their own research and sign up for VPN services without our links.
And because of the fact that around 99 percent of all VPN service providers offer commissions to websites that generate a sale for them, it is not hard to understand that there is no point in recommending a VPN service that is not good lest one might lose readers.
Security Gladiators is among those comparison and review sites that have their reputation on the line whenever they put up a review.
Now, the thing about the vast majority of VPN review sites is that they are not honest.
The same goes for VPN comparison sites as well.
You may not know this but some VPN service providers actually own a multiple number of VPN review sites.
The prime example here is PureVPN.
Many media reports have talked about how PureVPN owns certain websites such as VPNRanks and then uses them in order to recommend PureVPN as the best VPN service provider for a multiple number of different tasks.
We’re not saying PureVPN does not work.
As far as unblocking things and mild security is concerned, PureVPN is a reasonably good VPN app.
But that does not change the fact that it owns VPNRanks and uses it to market itself as the number one provider.
If anything, we recommend that users who truly care about their privacy and want to carry out sensitive tasks on the internet, should stay away from PureVPN.
It is only good if you are a casual user and only are concerned about watching Netflix or something like that.
Now, of course, PureVPN is not nearly the worst offender in such scenarios.
VPN review websites in a lot of other corners around the internet have put their own money to ‘good’ use and have bought out smaller VPN service providers.
There are sites like bestVPN.com that owns VPN services like BufferedVPN.
Various sources have mentioned how bestvpn.com continued to recommend BufferedVPN to any and all users until the link between BufferedPVN and bestVPN.com came to light.
After that, the website started to scale its recommendation back a little bit.
But continued to rank BufferedVPN among the top VPN service providers.
So what is our recommendation in such cases?
Well, our recommendation is that you should consult a multiple number of reviews for each given VPN service that you are interested in.
And yes, it is true that you need to look for professional VPN review sites (such as the one that you are reading right now, might we add) and also various reputable public reviews sites similar to Trustpilot.
VPN Scam: A deal that never ends
Another big problem.
Some VPN service providers have figured out that people find time-limited VPN deal pretty enticing.
Not only can users sign up for a VPN service with huge discounts but they can do so right now.
Most of the time, though, this right now is always a right now.
And while we are not saying these are actual scams, such practices should be limited.
Some review sites do not have genuinely time-limited deals.
We have already mentioned the fact that the VPN industry is pretty much similar to any other regular industry.
In other words, some sites do give you excellent VPN deals if you hurry up but what we have noticed is that a good number of holiday-specific, time-restricted, time-limited or promotional-period VPN deals are not as genuine as they first seem.
Some VPN services and also review sites employ a tactic where they have the same deal over and over again for a time period that never seems to end.
Readers from certain countries would not find it hard to compare this tactic with those stores that always offer you a discount and sale price no matter which day of the year you turn up at their store.
So what is our recommendation in this case?
Our recommendation is that you need to go to the official website of the VPN service provider that you are interested in and then keep visiting it for a couple of days or more.
If you see that the official VPN website keeps offering you the same kind of deal and tell you that the deal is going to end after 24 hours each and every single day for a week or two then you should have no problems in understanding that the deal you are looking it is not as genuine as the VPN website would have you believe.
VPN Scam: Monthly packages that are ultra-low price
Some people rightly believe that marketing is nothing but a bunch of books telling you how to make things seem a lot nicer than they really are in real life.
But again, we cannot fault the VPN industry alone when it comes to questionable marketing tactics.
Every other industry seems to be doing the same so why should the VPN industry be any different from that?
Or the thinking goes.
What we need you to understand here is that while the ultra-low monthly subscription fee package may not qualify as a bonafide scam, you need to know about it in order to protect yourself from the harm that it may cause you.
Whenever some VPN service presents you with its monthly price, you instinctively think that you will have to pay the VPN service on a monthly basis.
And it is true that when you purchase the monthly package you only have to pay the monthly prices.
However, the thing about longer packages is that some VPN service providers want you to pay them upfront for the whole period.
In other words, they want a lot of commitment from the online consumer.
What we need you to understand here as well is that if you happen to come across a VPN service that if offering you a monthly price of just $10 and makes you feel special by offering you the same package for just $2 or $2 per month, then you should have an awareness that it will probably require you to pay a minimum of 1-year or 2-year worth of subscription fee.
Only then will the VPN service allow you to benefit from the ultra-low price.
So what is our recommendation in this case?
Well, our recommendation is that there is no harm in signing up for annual or even a little longer subscription packages.
But you need to keep in mind that you will have to pay for the time period upfront and not on a monthly basis.
Regardless of the frequency, you will still get to enjoy a massive discount in most cases.
VPN Scam: The most popular VPN service of all time
If you go to any app store or go to Google and then search for the term VPN then the app store or the search engine will spew out a list of the most popular VPN applications of all time.
In fact, don’t be surprised to see a good number of VPN apps that online consumers have downloaded more than 10 million times.
When you look at the numbers, we know that you may find yourself thinking that an app that has managed to get 10 million plus downloaded must be a good VPN app.
Makes sense right?
The problem here is that in most cases the most downloaded and most popular VPN application on the app store is exactly the one that belongs to the category of free and sketchy VPN service providers.
So how come these VPN services become so popular?
Well, we have already mentioned the fact that they cost a total of zero.
And that means,a ton of folks that are on a tight budget take the chance of downloading them and using them without giving it much thought.
You need to think harder on the scam we mentioned before where VPN services try to deceive users to buy their crappy VPN service for longer periods of time.
Also, remember that free VPN services are anything but free.
In other words, just because 10 million plus people have downloaded a VPN application does not mean in any way that the VPN app is any good.
So what is our recommendation in this case?
Well, our recommendation is that you should never get sucked up into various VPN services whose only claim to fame is the number of downloads that they have amassed on various app stores.
Instead of that, you need to pick a paid-for and reputable VPN service provider that has worked hard for years to built up the trust that is required in the VPN industry.
Bonus VPN scam: No logs VPN that logs stuff
We do not think we need to explain such VPN services.
Today you will hardly find a VPN service that doesn’t claim it keeps no logs.
But the reality is different.
Many VPN services do keep logs.
But hide the fact in their privacy policies.
Some make use of terms of conditions of service to do the same.
Keep an eye out for those VPNs that store your payment information or the time you connect to their service or what servers you use.