Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, provide an array of benefits. Primarily, they allow you to remain anonymous and secure when you are surfing online, by providing an encrypted tunnel through which your data can travel.

The value of VPNs

The secure digital “tunnel” prevents any snoopers or hackers from accessing your data. At the same time, you can cloak your IP address so that you can access geo-locked content providers, such as Netflix USA, BBC iPlayer when you are abroad, Hula and Amazon Prime.

VPNs also allow you to torrent and use P2P networks safely, by making sure your ISP or any authorities cannot access your user data and identify you as an individual.

There is a huge number of VPN providers on the market and new services come online all the time. Some of the most trusted providers include NordVPN and ExpressVPN. However, although the majority of services are of high quality, there are some which are essentially just scams. Here are six things you should look out for.

The “free” VPN

Every internet user dreams of finding a service that is truly free – but there are almost no VPNs that are truly “free.” Usually, these services simply collect user data and sell it on to third parties. There are free VPN apps available for download, but remember that they must all make money somehow.

The lifetime subscription

Although there are some free VPN services, most users will prefer to pay for a trustworthy and supported service. A good service will provide software and application support and advanced features that allow you to access locked and censored content while staying anonymous online.

So how is it possible to get such a great deal on a cheap “for life” subscription, given the high costs involved?

Well, that’s exactly the problem. Rather than being a straightforward scam, lifetime VPN subscriptions are usually just a desperate attempt to get money. And desperation is rarely a good sign.

Fake VPNs

Growing interest in the services that VPNs provide has led to a wave of new customers on the market. In response, fake VPN providers are cashing in.

These scam companies charge for the subscription without offering any service at all. Rookie users in particular trust that they are buying a genuine service and then have no way of knowing that they are being scammed. To avoid this, never use a new VPN without any track record. Look for details on their performance and read their user reviews.

Bad VPNs

Some apps simply don’t protect your data at all by virtue of being bad. They leak, they log, they have features that don’t work as advertised, they readily share data with third parties and so on.

Fake claims

A lot of VPN companies claim they are:

  • Offering the fastest VPN in the world
  • Not collecting or storing any type of personal and identifiable data
  • Guaranteeing leak protection

Test statements like this carefully before you sign up for a VPN, especially if you haven’t heard of the company or had it recommended. There are tools that exist to check VPN leaks. Test your speeds too to see if the VPN is fast. Look carefully at the small print in the privacy policy.

With your data being so valuable and sought-after, it is well worth taking the extra steps to avoid having it stolen. Always look for a provider that is truly transparent, convenient, honest, reliable and trustworthy.

Sham testimonials

Some new VPN services appear to have dozens of reviews which try to make the offer look legitimate. To avoid being scammed here, only look at trusted blogs. Remember that some sites will offer fake customer reviews in return for a fee.

Avoid these at all costs and only read reviews from reputable sites. We always carry out unbiased reviews of VPN services to make sure you aren’t the victim of a VPN scam.

In summary

There is a large number of VPNs on the market, and each offers something different. It’s very easy to end up being lured into a fake VPN and the easiest way to avoid a VPN scam is to follow common-sense steps:

  • Don’t’ fall for the promise of a free VPN service – nothing is really free!
  • Read reviews from legitimate sites
  • Read the small print carefully
  • Make sure you understand the features, especially if you want to do something particular, such as access Netflix, torrent, access Facebook from behind the great firewall of China and so forth.

It’s also well worth contacting the customer services team of the VPN service that you are considering so that you can get a sense of how professional and legitimate the operation is. Remember to check out our latest VPN reviews so that you choose quality and reputable service that truly matches your needs.