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Don't Be a Statistic! Your Quick Guide to Avoiding Common Online and Affiliate Marketing Scams in 2021

Don't Be a Statistic! Your Quick Guide to Avoiding Common Online and Affiliate Marketing Scams in 2021

As common as the scams we listed down here is the misconception that affiliate marketing is a scam too. With all the affiliate marketing courses out there telling you that there is plenty of money to be made through affiliate marketing matched with the number of people and reviews saying they earned nil through the same methods, it does throw a shade over affiliate marketing to say the least.

The hundreds of legit affiliate programs we recommend and promote here in Affilorama should be proof enough that affiliate marketing is far from being a scam.

Affiliate marketing is a legit industry that even popular influencers are  earning money out of.

Before going into common affiliate marketing scams, I suggest you check out our beginner lessons on affiliate marketing. These lessons will help you define what affiliate marketing is, what it entails and how you can get started on it.

GI Joe wasn’t messing when he told us “Knowing is half the battle.” Arming yourself with a clear definition of what affiliate marketing is will make it easier for you to spot what isn’t and what is just another scam dressed as affiliate marketing.

Common Online and Affiliate Marketing Scams

Scams are not limited to affiliate marketing, or the internet. It is everywhere. As the ‘’Get Rich Quick” episode of Netflix’s docuseries “Money Explained” says: scams have existed longer than the internet, and we still keep falling for it.

So we’re not limiting this list to common affiliate marketing scams, but extending it to include other deceitful money-making methods the pollute the internet. 

1. Misleading Affiliate Marketing Training Courses and eBooks

It’s mostly those new and eager to do affiliate marketing that fall for misleading affiliate marketing training programs. There are free lessons on affiliate marketing available, but most of us, particularly those that are starting out, prefer a more in-depth course, maybe a bit of handholding, if possible.

Totally understandable. Affiliate marketing is like any business that you need to learn and invest money on.

This is also why we get sucked into buying one course after one eBook after another.  

And there’s plenty of people online who are more than willing to sell you a course, an e-book, a webinar and various other kinds of information. They’re practically everywhere online from ads to Facebook and of course, Youtube.

Many of these training programs are often nothing more than a rip-off. You don't actually learn anything useful and you're out whatever money you spent. At the most, you might get an e-book that is full of fluff and no real, actionable lessons.

Not all training courses and eBooks on affiliate marketing are fake or are a scam. There are courses that truly give value, but you need to do your homework. Hold off buying until after you have done a bit of research either on the course, or the people behind it.

2. Get-Rich-Quick Offers

The oldest and possibly the most common of all scams. As mentioned at the start of this section, get-rich-quick schemes have been around way before the internet and still persists today because we all still fall for it.

A scheme that is not limited to affiliate marketing but it’s these get-rich-quick offers that give it such a bad rap. They promise you will make thousands of dollars overnight, or that you can just work 2 hours a day and have $5,000 in your bank account at the end of the week.

It sounds so good we end up reaching for our wallets. Every time.

Conversely, the promise of instant gain for the least amount of work that these get-rich-quick schemes are known for is the singular, prominent red flag to watch out for. Any “secret” method or training program that promises you will earn a huge profit over a short period of time is a sign for you to take a step back and dig deeper.

Legitimate affiliate marketing takes a bit of time to learn and while you will make money from it, it doesn't happen overnight. You need a strategy and you need to implement it well before you make any income.

Again, this is where having a clear idea of what affiliate marketing is and how it works helps.

3. No or Fake Product/Service to Sell

This scheme is as pervasive as get-rich-quick offers that a friend or family member may have fallen victim to it, if you haven’t yourself.

And it’s not just affiliate marketing that gets a bad name because of this scam. Multi-level marketing has been synonymous with it, and they have both been around way before the internet and affiliate marketing.

The way this scheme works is you are shown a product or service that you buy along with an investment into the company. In order to move up, you need to get more people on board in exchange for additional commission. The money just gets passed around, and you’re not likely to see yours multiply in the long term as promised. 

In affiliate marketing, affiliate marketers make their money by promoting someone else's product or services. If a company is promising you thousands of dollars in income, look closer. What is it that you're actually selling? If there is no actual product or service, it's nothing more than a scam.

These affiliate marketing "opportunities" are designed like pyramid schemes where no one is actually making any money. You make an investment to join the program and after that, money is just passed around from one person to the next. These schemes are totally illegal! You will lose your investment, and you're not going to make any affiliate income from it, either.

Then there are the affiliate programs that do show a product or service but the product or survive seems too good to be true. No negative reviews? Guaranteed results each time?

Better do a background check on that product or service before promoting it.

One sure way to avoid this is to go directly to the main website of the product or service, and see if they do have an affiliate program. Maybe get in touch with the support team and ask.

Another option is to make sure that you only join established affiliate networks. This way, you are assured that the products and services you will promote are 100% legit.

4. Pay-To-Join Programs

Then and now, real, legitimate affiliate programs are still free to join. An authentic affiliate program is risk-free for affiliates. Just take a look at our recent post on beauty affiliate programs. All 100 of the affiliate programs listed there are free to join.

Our list of high-paying affiliate networks is another great example that affiliate networks and programs don’t require any fee to sign up. Some affiliate networks require a website. Maybe they prefer experienced affiliate marketers. But no legitimate affiliate network will ask you to pay a fee to join their network.

If you are asked to pay a fee to join, steer clear. It is most likely an illegal multi-level marketing scheme.

5. Domain Name Scams

This was a popular scam doing the rounds a couple of years ago, and you would still see this from time to time. Say you owned the domain abc.com. You would receive an email (usually from China) telling you that someone is trying to register the domain name abc.cn in China. They are emailing you out of concern as they have noticed you own the .com domain. They want to make sure your trademark is protected in China.

If you fall for the blatant lie, they will tell you that as the original owner of the particular business name, you have the right to register the abc.cn domain name with them first. You will be sent a price list and they will make money off you by making you purchase a domain name that you didn't ever need.

There are a few other variations of this type of scam like telling you that search engines like Google have blocked your domain name, so beware of any random emails concerning your domain names. If you are unsure, get in touch with the company you registered your domain name with.

6. Phishing

Another scam that remains prevalent, and one that is like a gift that keeps on giving.

You open a seemingly secure and legit email from a bank, a colleague, or company you do business with. They are asking you to click on a link to verify your information, renew your password or to download what you thought is a valid and secure document.

You click the link and a malware gets installed, or your private information or identity is stolen. You then start seeing purchases you didn’t make, emails you didn’t send, and a whole slew of other security issues.

There are now ways to limit or prevent this but still, be wary of emails you open and links you click. As there are people who are committed to making the internet a safe place by creating systems and checks to keep phishing and other online scams from wreaking havoc, so are there people on the other side devoted to doing otherwise.

7. Cryptocurrency Scams

Cryptocurrency, like affiliate marketing, is not a scam, but as with affiliate marketing, there are scams within and surrounding it that makes it look to the ordinary person as one big phony money-making endeavor.

The biggest cryptocurrency scam so far this year is influencers recommending various cryptocurrencies and related apps to their audiences. The value of the crypto goes up and the same influencers sell theirs, taking advantage of the higher rates.

The hype dies down, leaving nothing for the people who bought into it.

8. Impersonator Scams

Yet another unlawful money-making scheme that has been going around before people were ever online. Popular public figures and celebrities are name-dropped; their images or likeness used to capture attention and gain a following. Scammers would then ask for a certain amount in exchange for something, but never deliver what was promised.

Take for example that cryptocurrency event that an Elon Musk impersonator pulled, sending people to a link where they need to send in an amount in cryptocurrency within a specific timeframe and they will get twice that amount back.

There were red flags, the most prominent of which was being asked to send over or spend money in order to “win” or get something back.

Be wary of online contests, and if you are tempted, be sure to check on the people behind the contest. If they start asking for money, then think it several times over before joining.

9. Online Romance Scams

Getting our heart broken after all the love, time and effort we put in the person and the relationship makes it feel like one big scam. But this one goes a lot more than that.

Online romance scams empty your wallets, too.

Like a tale as old as time itself, you meet Prince Charming through a Facebook group, or an online community. You two are a hit; chatting day and night.

Then he runs into some trouble and you’re the only one who could help. Or maybe he is finally going to come visit you but needs a few more bucks for his trip; maybe you could loan him some and he’ll pay you back when he gets there?

Or maybe it’s a sexy photo he wants. Or a video call in your lingerie.

Whatever his “requests” might be, think twice before giving in. You don’t really know personally who is behind that phone. And even if they do show their faces, it’s easy enough to change names and identities online.

So beware.

10. Covid-19 Scams

Unscrupulous individuals have not let the current pandemic past. They are capitalizing on the current situation to exploit the unwary among us.

These scams work similar to phishing. You get a text, call or email letting you know you need to verify your information in order to receive your stimulus or government assistance check. It can also masquerade as your health insurance or Medicare provider asking to complete forms in order to continue their coverage.

All these have only one goal: to get your personal information.

Once they have your personal details, it’s easy enough to get access to everything else related to you.

Just like with phishing scams or any scam for that matter, stopping and taking a step back to double-check will save you from getting caught in a scammer’s net.

How to Avoid [Affiliate Marketing] Scams

You’ll find that the same things that you will do to avoid getting caught affiliate marketing scams are the same things that will help you avoid becoming an online scam statistic.

The rule of thumb before signing up for any affiliate program or affiliate training course is to do your due diligence. There are some well known and reputable programs and courses in the industry (including ours!) but when you're new, it's hard to tell.

Generally, it’s those products with dollar bills, numerous ads, lengthy and sensational copy, and lots of redirects that will signal not just affiliate marketing scams, but any scam. There is a consistent “spammy” look to these scams and these are what you should watch out for.

In saying that, a clean-looking, professional website doesn’t mean a 100% legit affiliate program or training course. Follow some of the tips we mentioned above in spotting the above common scams.

Here’s a few more suggestions:

Stop, Look and Listen

It’s easy to get caught up in our excitement and join just about any affiliate marketing program or course that comes our way.

Don’t. Stop, look and listen.

There are usually free webinars you can join that discuss these courses and programs. Before even attending the free webinar, look up the people speaking in the event. Check out reviews of the course they are promoting.

If there isn’t much information yet, then be sure to ask your questions during the webinar. Reach out to their support team if necessary.

Get as much information you can before deciding if the course is for you or not.

Be Aware

A certain level of awareness will give an added layer of protection against online scams. Read through an email thoroughly before clicking on any links. Check who it’s from and the actual email address it is coming from. If anything looks dubious, don’t open or click on any of the links.

Always remember that companies will never ask for your personal information over phone, email, chat or text. 

If you’re being asked to hand over money within a limited time, or else…  then maybe you it’s better to sit out until after you have done your research.

Ask Google

Yes, Google, in this instance, is your best friend.

The easiest way to find out the legitimacy of any affiliate program or training course is to Google it. If it's a well known scam, you will more than likely see reports about it online. If you can't tell just by searching for the name, try searching for variations, such as "[affiliate program name] scam" or "[affiliate program name] ripoff." You can also search for "[affiliate program name] reviews," etc.

Check out affiliate marketing forums and blogs. What courses do other affiliate marketers recommend? What courses are they saying to avoid?

You can find all these by asking Google.

The Company Website

In the unlikely case of Google not giving you as much information as you want, head straight to the company website. Legitimate companies in the affiliate marketing industry always have professional websites. If this is not the case, it should raise a red flag for you.

Don’t hesitate to reach out and inquire. Send an email or chat with a support representative if you can.

Genuine Commission Percentage

As an affiliate, you will make money off commissions. If a company is offering a ridiculously high commission percentage, don't believe it straight away. It's not impossible (some programs really are quite generous), but it's better to do your research and see if they really pay out their affiliates. Also, make sure the products and services they offer are genuine and of good quality.

You’d usually find these being discussed in popular affiliate marketing forums and blogs. If you are intent on pursuing affiliate marketing, then join in and read through the various information before buying a course or joining a program.

If It's Too Good To Be True

Anything that is too good to be true, generally is.

That is  to say, you are better off being suspicious about a course or program. Be wary of unrealistic offers, easy money schemes and any businesses (especially foreign) offering to help you with something out of the blue.

Use your common sense and you have nothing to worry about. There are hundreds of genuine and completely legitimate ways to make money as an affiliate. Be aware of the affiliate marketing scams, but don't let them keep you up at night!

Do you know of any other affiliate marketing scams that we've missed? Let us know and we'll add them to the list.

 

31 Comments Add your comment
  • Reply Nylisha Gilbert2200 days ago

    Good Read! I wish I had this when I first got started early in 2014. I took one year off from Affiliate Marketing and I'm ready to jump back in the industry

    Radhika Basuthakur2195 days ago

    Thanks Nylisha. Good to hear you're getting back into it. Good luck!

  • Reply LLOYD GORDON2183 days ago

    Your article makes for a very interesting read Radhika. Over several decades now I have engaged in Entrepreneurship marketing my own inventions/publications, as well as Affiliate Marketing for Health Food Companies such as GNLD, Symmetry, Herbalife, a.s.o. There were no established courses in Jamaica at the time of my commencement. Having gained experience and being petitioned with requests for help, I am trying to help some people, locally, who wish to sign up for the courses which I am fleshing out with selected sign-up offers of a legitimate nature for test driving practise. Few people are funded to the level of appropriate sophistication expected in the U.S.A., but well intentioned ones, such as myself, can make a difference by providing preliminary training which can then be 'fleshed out' at your U.S.A. levels, should the Course Participant wish to follow through. I intend to offer your fine programme to my students as soon as they arrive at the appropriate level to benefit. Part of the problem in Jamaica is linguistic difficulties due to the Jamaican dialect/language which can be taxing when local students attempt foreign courses structured in the Standard English Language that they are unfamiliar with at home. I have taken due note of your scam commentary and hope that will not reflect on our local efforts which are not based on 'solicitation'.

  • Reply raouas mohamed2176 days ago

    THANK YOU SO MUCH

  • Reply Konrad Smit • 1668 days ago

    Hi Perrin,always a pleasure meeting fellow marketers online.
    I agree with Affiliate Marketing being a good online business and people always have the tendancy of extracting the negative out of everthing.
    These Scans online is bad for everyone and i can understand why this makes everyone sceptics.
    But there are Legit ways of making money online with todays technology.
    Just bad for us that we have to continuesly fight against these online scams.
    Cheers for now

  • Reply 1649 days ago

    I am so tired of the affiliate marketing scams. Thomas Witek, who has been a marketing for only a few years, falls on the fact that he was a "former" apple developer. Several times the programs he puts out he promises lifetime updates, but this is so FAR from the truth. He's very rude when you call him out on this. Recently he sold Tube Hammer. Thought it was interesting and when I got the program, already had a YouTube account banned in 48 hours, after he said it wasn't possible. I had the YouTube account for 4 years and just now after using TubeHammer it's banned. I also paid for ClickJacker 4, and after 8 emails to him and his nonexistent support, he still has not responded. Well, today I will report this to PayPal and get a refund and asked that he be banned because of his persistent scams, which others are also complaining about on a mass basis. I promise to get him BARRED/BANNED and report him to the Better Business Bureau and wherever else I can to get him off of his fake affiliate marketing kick. He's another one with the fake screen shots. I called him out on this and still no response to this. BEWARE OF "THOMAS WITEK.


  • Reply Andrejs • 1612 days ago

    Thanks Radhika for the reminder. Your scam list actually is nothing new for me but anyway people tending to forget and fall into the temptation of easy money traps. Number five in the list is it that I never paid attention to. Thanks for the warning.

  • Reply Ron Ireland1311 days ago

    How do I check the reputation of an affiliate site. They all want money up front and promise the moon then you can't even get a response. There has to be a legit way to make money at this. I am not afraid to work and learn but I need a company that is going to provide what they promise in order to get my investment

    Cecille Loorluis1310 days ago

    Hi Ron,

    I understand where you're coming from. It can be difficult to tell which ones are legit and which ones aren't. My rule of thumb is if it sounds too good to be true, then it probably is. I also check a website and its product's online reputation. There are all sorts of forums and review sites that can help you find out if a company and its products are the real deal or not.

    Hope that helps. All the best!

    Christopher Reed655 days ago

    if you are looking for a real affiliate program/Company that really pays i personally recommend that you check out partnerstack.com who was originally called growsumo they are a very well rounded company i have been working with them ever since they had started and i have never had any problems with them. i would provide you with my referral link but because i want to be honest and tell you from my experience this is one of the best in my own opinion. and i don't want to be rude to the blogger by posting a referral link to the company. unless given permission to do so.

  • Reply Sherri 1292 days ago

    Thank you so much for your website it has been a real eye opener and something to fall back on when you need help

  • Reply William Garland1200 days ago

    Thank you so much for being real. A lot of people get taken advantage of and it's uplifting to see they're are still honest people out there

  • Reply Bonnie hanna1152 days ago

    Has any one heard of affiliate marketing training .com Oregon? And is it legitimate?

    Cecille Loorluis1150 days ago

    Hi Bonnie,

    I have not heard of that website so I can't really say for sure if they are legitimate or not.

    All the best!

  • Reply mike • 980 days ago

    Another (possibly new) one is for the merchant to provide you access to Google Analytics, but completely omit the tracking tag from the conversion funnel.

    So even if you are making sales, you can't see it in Google Analytics. You just have to put blind faith in the merchant to inform you of when THEY SAY you made a sale.

    I informed my merchant of this, and I got totally ignored. I think I'm gonna focus on my own website and just forget about affiliate marketing altogether.

  • Reply Gareth 960 days ago

    Hi

    Thank you for tips, I used to promote Clickbank products, but after problems with product quality, I decided to go my own way instead. I now only blog on my own site and it is going well.

  • Reply Courtney 956 days ago

    Hi,
    This was something I needed to read, I am very new to marketing and these were very helpful tips I need to be aware of. I haven't experienced any scams yet but now I am aware that they are out there. Thank you for sharing this!

  • Reply Christy 938 days ago

    Made 6 sales in a week for a company that was supposed to do a $200 commission per sale. I was excited when my account racked up to $1200 of income the first few days! But the next business day after the weekend all those payouts mysteriously read, "VOIDED". The company kept the sales and took all the commissions away from me! Now either ShareASale nor the merchant won't answer my emails or phone calls!! They took the sales and never paid out and will not communicate with me at all. Complete scam!

    Cecille Loorluis935 days ago

    Hi Christy,

    I'm sorry to hear about your experience. This comes as a surprise as ShareASale is a reputable affiliate network. They have been around for a long time now.

    Maybe there were fees, or the merchant asked for certain requirements to be made, before you can get the commission?

    I hope you haven't been burned so bad you're not going to try again. There are other affiliate networks out there like ClickBank and Commission Junction.


    All the best!

  • Reply MJL Things • 936 days ago

    I have been planning Affiliate Marketing for my online store MJL Things and would appreciate if you can provide me some references to proceed with.

    Cecille Loorluis935 days ago

    What niche is your website about? You can check out affiliate networks like ClickBank foor affiliate offers. There's MarketHealth and Offervault for CPA offers.

    Hope that helps. All the best!

  • Reply 891 days ago

    It’s a huge list of affiliate sites.. Happy to save all the sites from the list. I hope will help me to make some decent money online, also kindly share with me any affiliate guide to follow from you too !!

  • Reply Sam • 837 days ago

    affiliate2day program is more than good. I was not that satisfied with some payment issues in the very beginning but now it works 100%

  • Reply Farrah keji806 days ago

    Hi guys, does anyone here knows if revenue vault pay per call is legit

    Cecille Loorluis800 days ago

    Hi Farrah,

    I have not tried Revenue Vault personally so I can't really say, but looking at the reviews online, they appear to be legit. They work similar to Offervault, with the latter more popular and established than Revenue Vault.

    All the best!

    Romola 616 days ago

    Hello have you tried working with revenue vault, pay per call, are they legit and have you had any problems

  • Reply Russ Hamilton742 days ago

    Thanks for the tips. Are you familiar with Advance Associate Solutions/Opt In Marketing Group. My wife just signed us up for that one. They have been very responsive and have answered all questions, but I just noticed there is no website. Thoughts?

    Cecille Loorluis740 days ago

    Hi Russ,

    I am not familiar with them, and their name is generic in that they point to a lot of similar companies. Since they are responsive, I suggest you ask them for their official company name and their website, then search online for reviews on their company or group.

    Hope that helps. All the best!

  • Reply pablo porro729 days ago

    I think it's essencial to do your due diligence ahead of time when signing up to pretty much anything now adays, so this article comes in extremely handy! Thank you :)

  • Reply Jean 676 days ago

    Hi there,

    Wondering if you know anything about Affilate institute? If not could I speak with you about it?

    Cecille Loorluis676 days ago

    Hi Jean,

    I have heard about Affiliate Institute but have not tried their training programs personally.

    There are plenty of reviews on their training programs online from people who have tried it.

    Hope that helps. All the best!

  • Reply Alfred 661 days ago

    There are a lot of affiliate marketing that are scam affiliated scheme,right now there are one that name wealthy affiliate that is definitely a scam after they get you to training after that they are charging a fee for it,these scammers are showing us a house full of us dollars,they are crazy.and even clickbank too.

  • Reply Linda Clark649 days ago

    I was called by a guy named Mike saying he was a recruiter for Amazon Affiliates. For $200.00 he could get me started because it costs $1200.00 to set it up, then he said for another $100.00 he could add Apple and others beside Amazon. I agreed and a man named Todd called me 10 days later for an interview and said I would be all set in 3 weeks,I have heard nothing since, it's been 4 weeks and I can't reach them by phone. Someone called and said he would have someone call me and no one has. I want my money back! They are representing Amazon with 10% commission on every purchase my customer makes.I never got started!

  • Reply Annie 626 days ago

    Hi, I just started looking into affiliate marketing. Some of the websites and persons ask fees for the courses they offer. How would we know they are real or fake?

  • Reply DARLENE UMOH626 days ago

    Please is Revenue Vault paypercall legit?.... I want to know more about this company before I could enroll with them

  • Reply Miracle O.562 days ago

    Hi,
    Do u know of Salesblotter? Are they legit enough?
    Some 'riteads.com' guys messaged me via email and said I could be trained as an affiliate for Salesblotter, if I am willing to pay for the courses online.
    Still thinking about making the move...

  • Reply Wisdom 464 days ago

    Do riteads charge any fee for their CPA training

  • Reply Tina Askew • 455 days ago

    Is Super Affiliate Network a scam I joined with an initial less than $50. I have been going to training and all of these classes are leading up to an important call. I feel like on the call they are going to hit me with a astronomical amount to access the "program" that is supposed to make me thousands of $$ a month. I do admit the classes have taught me some things but there is a lot of shaming and urgency about finishing theses classes and getting to the call. It does come with a 30 day money back but haven't tried to get a refund yet.

  • Reply Charles 443 days ago

    Am new and want to join online marketing business.How do i get started.So green on this, what is a domain, website and how will it help me to be in business.I mean what is the use of domain and website.Kindly i hope you understand my concern, advice accordingly, thanks

    Cecille Loorluis409 days ago

    Hi Charles,

    I suggest you go over our free lessons at https://www.affilorama.com/lessons

    Our free lessons will give you a background on how affiliate marketing works.

    All the best!

  • Reply Andy • 430 days ago

    We have been told for 20 years to never click on a link, it will bring a virus to your device or take you to a fake web page. Never click on links. So how does affiliate marketing work if people like me never EVER click on links? If I want ebay, I go to ebay.com directly.

    Cecille Loorluis409 days ago

    Hi Andy,

    Affiliate marketing these days is based on trust. When you trust the website you are on, then you tend to click the links on its pages because you know the website you are browsing is trustworthy/reliable.

    This is similar to clicking on the links influencers recommend. These are often affiliate links.

    All the best!

  • Reply Lisa • 293 days ago

    Revenue vault is a verified scam. They will keep asking you to pay money and you will NEVER receive anything in return. Don't let all the websites and google adwords and their strategies deceive you, it's a scam. BEWARE!

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