5 Ways to Spot Affiliate Marketing Scams

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5 Ways to Spot Affiliate Marketing Scams Shaping the Wild West Of Home Business

5 Ways to Spot Affiliate Marketing Scams Shaping the Wild West Of Home Business.

You may not see horses tied out in front of a saloon, be part of bar fights and shootouts in the street but working online from home can seem like you are Wyatt Earp taming Old Tucson. Learning how to spot affiliate marketing scams is not hard, but with the allure of fast money, it can seem daunting because so many programs are borderline.

Our mission today is to help you navigate the internet a bit more safely, and find quality programs to join and profit from. There is a method I use for reviews and program hunting as well as for deciding what products to buy to help my business. Product creators need to pay attention to this because thousands of people will see this post and tell tens of thousands of people how to be safe online. The tens of thousands will show hundreds of thousands who will show millions and eventually you will have no sales if you can’t be trusted.

Method 1: Are the program owner or owners listed on the site?

It seems like a straightforward question but in the days of Private Label Rights you can be fooled into buying books, courses, videos, and software found free online for sizable amounts of money. These are often 5 years old or older and contain many broken links, out-of-date tactics, and black hat SEO or Search Engine Optimization that will get you penalized by Google.

These sites seldom list an author or owner and if they do it will hardly ever match the tip under method 2 which is Whois Results. Do make sure to never buy anything you can not find out the owners names on as this is the biggest red flag of all. Con Artist don’t want you to know who they are.

They hide in the shadows and steal your money and worse yet many of these sites are phishing sites and steal information like credit cards and Pay-pal passwords using pass-through software and hidden iframes. You would never know you weren’t on Pay-Pal directly except the address bar on your computer may show a different URL.

Make Scam City a Ghost Town

Method 2: WhoIs Lookup: Does the name match the registration or have you found the owners name yet?

Most sites do not use Domain Privacy. Using the ICANN Whois Domain Lookup tools you can get name and contact details for most program owners. This gives you added trust in the person at least attempting to run an honest business. It can give you information like support e-mails and the location of an online help desk, a physical company address and more.

Method 3: Armed with a name but what’s in a name?

You can now run a search for the owner or owners with the word scam attached and see how many complaints there are against the owner. Don’t be worried if there are a few dozen complaints as some idiots try to defame people and programs because they fail to properly implement systems and follow directions. Others use negative advertising to get attention to other products.

Read into the reports though and you can usually spot legit complaints, especially if there are a lot of them. Scammers also will be listed as scam artists from a series of programs, not just the current one.

Method 4: Run the same search on this program’s name and compare claims to those related to the author.

Also, search just the name of the program and see if it is listed on more than one site. If this is going back to WhoIs to find out what site is the oldest listing. Run one more search for this product name plus the word free to see if it is listed for free elsewhere.

This will give you a firm idea of who you are dealing with and potential risk buying the program.

Taming the wild west of online scams

Method 5: Product Reviews and how to spot the good ones.

You can spot good reviews by a few factors. The first is they have done the WhoIs research and know who the program owners are. They can give detailed overviews on how a program is supposed to work. They also list prices up front, and both Pros and Cons information will be listed and not sound downplayed. Good reviews often list sources of other related reviews and don’t say 3 times in a review that for a better product or program visit this link when doing negative reviews.

If you see a ton of scam warnings and every review tries to redirect to a different program the odds are the site uses negative publicity to drive traffic and is not an honest review site. The same goes if every review for a program is 100% positive despite the name plus the word Scam in the title. I have been doing this long enough to almost instantly spot poison pen reviews but you may need some practice.

What to do if you spot a SCAM?

You can report it to your local authorities or if you are a US citizen there is the FBI Cyber Crimes Unit you can report the site to. You can also may a review on any of the major Scam Buster websites and if you are a blogger you could even write a review yourself.

Wrap Up on 5 Ways to Spot Affiliate Marketing Scams

No one list will keep you entirely safe but doing a few minutes to a hours research can definitely save you time and money plus ensure your trust is not cheated. It can even save you time and money avoiding viruses and malware too. Hype will be on every product sales page, but digging beneath the hype and into the realm of whom, what, when, and how will help you decide why you should and shouldn’t take the leap. Above all remember not all scam complaints are real. Refer back to this page to see if maybe a scam report is just a poison pen review.

Definition of a Poison Pen Review: A review written by an ex-member who feels they were wronged when an account was canceled. These are often scammers who tried to game the system, were caught and their earnings frozen by a legitimate program. An example would be Terms of Service violate for SPAM or a system called stacking where a network marketer or MLM affiliate creates more than one account to take extra shares of income when sales are made. These people get caught and get angry blaming the program for not paying them the unearned money.

Thanks for reading, if you enjoyed this article let us know in the comments.

Andy Zeus Anderson

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Andy Anderson

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10 thoughts on “5 Ways to Spot Affiliate Marketing Scams”

  1. Thanks Andy!

    This was a very well organized and well laid out article. It was easy to read and provided real world access to multiple ways to verify if an online marketing offer is real or a scam.

    The addition of a table of contents at the beginning of the article was a nice touch, I haven’t seen that on many sites and I think it adds to the professionalism of your article.

    The “WhoIs” lookup tool was new information to me, I had never heard of that resource before reading your article and I feel that it’s good information for everyone who works online to be able to use to help protect themselves.

    All in all you have done a great job with the overall design, layout, photos and information provided in this article. I enjoyed the western theme too!

    Thanks, I look forward to reading more like this.


    • Thanks, KyleAnn. The sad thing is more and more host are starting to make Domain Privacy a feature of domain registration instead of optional. I favor having my company listed because it builds trust but even my domains are covered by Privacy systems I didn’t order. WhoIs though is still a good tool to find program owners when not listed on a site though because who knows, you might find the info there.

  2. Very similar to what I do. First off, I always look for the name and where these characters come from. Second, it’s definitely reviews. I think I read through one hundred of them before deciding upon coming to Wealthy Affiliate. Do research on the owners, make sure they’re legit and make sure the products they offer stood the test of time as well. If they meet these criteria, it’s certain you’re on to an honest product. 

    • Todd the only thing I don’t do in that list is waiting for the product to age because a new product can be just as valuable as one standing the test of time. I have seen scams last years like MOBE and Empower Network did and still be total lemons shut down by the wheels of justice. The investigations take time and scammers count on that to make money and bolt before the investigation is completed with everything they hid off-shore.

  3. Hello Andy, I must say that this article is very helpful and informative. I always check the owner of some product or service because that is the main thing all folks should do when buying or ordering something online. There are so many scams online that people must check three times before making a final decision.

    • The name is something often overlooked if the price is right. You wouldn’t believe the number of cheap Chinese electronics on Amazon with NO BRAND NAME??? WOW! These are products most likely to break 10 minutes out of the box or have other service issues and yet you find them on the World’s largest Retail site. Always get a name so you can get the reputation behind it. Thanks, Daniel.

  4. Thank you for this great article. As soon as I read that your first point was about knowing who the site owners are, I knew I was reading an article designed to provide value. I think knowing who the site owner/s are is so important and shouldn’t be underestimated at what a difference it can make for people to create trust. Thank you for this eye opener!

    • Hi Jade. You are so right in that trust factor. Scam artist hides faces, names, etc.. Honest people have no reason to hide. I mean I can trust butt ugly more than the horse with no name.

  5. Thanks so much Andy for the review.

    I hadn’t thought so much about the affiliate marketing scams out there, I have only been promoting reputable companies that I have tried myself so I can recommend their products or services with confidence.  But in any industry its good to be aware of the shady side.  I love tip #4 about searching the name of the program to see if its listed on more than one site and matching this back to WhoIs.  Also the search for the “product name free”.  So simple but so brilliant in picking out the weeds from the good fruits and flowers in the online world.

    Brilliant Andy, keep up the great work and protecting us all.

    • Thanks John. It’s amazing how many affiliate marketers don’t even know their program admin’s name. There are several types of common scams I will cover soon as well so make sure to bookmark my site or subscribe to our newsletter.


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