As an average consumer, it can be hard to spot fake software. That’s because a lot of the time, fake software looks and functions just like the real deal. It might even have similar branding. The difference? Fake software often comes packed with viruses that can harm your computer or steal personal information from you without your knowledge.

In this guide, we’ll go over ways to quickly identify fake software so that you don’t risk being hacked or paying for a product that doesn’t work. Below are a few ways to identify fake software.

The Software Doesn’t Come From the Real Source

A big clue you’re dealing with fake software is if the company or developer behind it isn’t who they say they are. Many scammers use fake sites to trick you into buying their products. They may also create fake companies to look legitimate, so be sure you’re doing your research on the developers of any software before purchasing.

It Comes With Bundled Software

Bundled software is usually a virus or malware, which a hacker can use to steal your identity, money, and data. If you see your software has bundled something that looks like a program that you did not ask for, be suspicious and make sure you know what it does before installing it.

Suppose the application developer offers an alternative download link as an option on their website or via email marketing promotions. In that case, that’s usually a good sign that they’re trying to avoid bundling unwanted third-party applications with their software.

If there are many offers for free upgrades or discounted bundles of other products included with your order confirmation email from them, this is another warning sign.

There Are Extensive Ads and Pop-Ups

A pop-up is a window that appears on your screen without your permission and usually contains some message or offer. You’ll usually see the pop-ups while browsing websites, but they can also arise when using other programs.

Pop-ups are usually easy to identify as fake because they’re tough to miss. If you see a large pop-up with loud music, flashing colors, and lots of text covering up the page you’re trying to read—you can be sure that it’s fake. If there are multiple pop-ups at once, this often means something is going wrong with your computer.

Pop-ups may be malicious if they try to trick users into clicking on links inside them (which could lead them somewhere dangerous) or take action like installing an extension or app from the company behind it.

To avoid such issues, you should hire software developers to get genuine products for your company.

Contact Information is Scarce

The lack of contact information is a huge red flag. If the website does not provide any information about who owns or runs the business, then it’s likely that it’s fake. This includes both physical addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers—you should be able to find all of this information somewhere on the site before making any decisions about whether or not to use their products and services.

Scammers know that you want to build your business and grow, so they try to gain your trust by offering you a free software solution or at a meager price. Unfortunately, these tools are usually not legitimate and will not help you achieve your goals.

There Aren’t Any Technical Support Options

The best way to identify fake software is to know the available technical support options. If a software program doesn’t have specialized support options, it will likely be counterfeit software.

You must have a way to contact the developers or creators of the software if you need assistance with something. You should always be able to find contact information on their website or within the product itself (like in an “About” section).

The option can also be included in the documentation and help files for those who want more information about using the program or getting help with different tasks or problems they might encounter.


When in doubt, verify. Don’t take someone’s word for it when they say they have the best antivirus software. Do a little research, and check out how well past clients have reviewed the company. If their reviews don’t add up, look elsewhere.