Keep Your Computer Pirate-FreeJennifer Martinez
If you find an online deal for software that seems too good to be true, beware before you buy. Cheap software sometimes comes with more than a low price. If it's stolen or pirated, it could come with a criminal penalty, too.
Software piracy is a serious matter. Besides violating the law and the intellectual rights of software authors, counterfeit software can seriously damage your PC and compromise its security.
Counterfeit software is usually sold on bogus websites or through classified ads. The counterfeit may be a good copy of the original, but it's more likely to be defective -- and even dangerous.
Pirated software may seem like a good deal, but can wind up being very costly. Here are a few reasons why:
Pirated software can crash your computer. You lose time. You could lose irreplaceable files or data. You could even destroy your PC and all your other software.
Counterfeit software can contain "spyware" that loads onto your computer and reports personal information without your knowledge -- like credit card and bank account numbers, passwords and address books. Stolen information can be exploited immediately by identity thieves.
Cyber-thieves periodically find vulnerabilities in software, and software vendors provide patches that fix the vulnerability. If you have counterfeit software, you won't be able to incorporate these legitimate updates -- making you vulnerable to attacks.
A seller proposing to violate the law might not stop at pirated software. Any credit card data or personal information you provide could be exploited by identity thieves.
To avoid falling victim to software pirates, follow these simple tips:
Purchase software only from reputable companies.
When shopping online, make sure the website is legitimate. On the site's purchase page, click the padlock icon in your browser's frame and view the security certificate. If there's no padlock, the site's probably not safe.
Before providing credit card information, check the site's URL address. It must read h#COMMENT#ENDCOMMENTttps, not just h#COMMENT#ENDCOMMENTttp. If there's no "s," don't make the purchase. (The "s" only means that information is encrypted when it's sent over the Internet. It doesn't mean the site is legitimate.)
If a price seems too good to be true, it probably is. Be wary of extremely reduced prices and double-check the site's authenticity.
If your software arrives wearing only a white sleeve or envelope, it's probably fake. Legitimate software comes in plastic-covered packages, with printed directions and registration cards.
If you think you may have purchased counterfeit software, you should contact the software maker's legitimate manufacturer, while at the same time trying to obtain a refund from the seller.
The bottom line: Counterfeit software hurts everyone -- and could be very costly for anyone who uses it. Be careful when buying software online and report any software you suspect may be counterfeit.
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