News Next article

Buying software? Don’t risk buying fakes!

Cheap bootleg software can have viruses, spyware and malware, these can be expensive to fix and you risk your privacy

11 February 2021

A guest post by Microsoft about buying software.

If you’re looking on Trade Me to buy a Microsoft software product, take care to ensure you’re not tricked into buying counterfeit software that looks just like genuine product.

What is the risk?

Counterfeit software is manufactured to look just like the real thing, and presents hidden risks that you may not find out about until it’s too late.

Those who manufacture the counterfeit software can embed in it malware, including viruses and spyware, which can cause the innocent user to suffer data loss, security failures and even identify theft.

At the very least, your software may not work properly.

How can I stay safe?

Buying online can be quick, convenient and a great value; however, it doesn’t always give you the same opportunity to see exactly what you’re getting as walking into a shop.

The general rule to remember is that if the price looks too good to be true, it probably is.

Comparison shopping sites are also a great way to know how much the product should cost at established retailers.

But people who sell counterfeit software often advertise it at just below the normal retail price so you think you're simply getting a good deal. So price is important, but it's not the only thing you need to think about.

Make sure you’re getting what you’ve paid for

First and foremost, make sure you’re buying from a seller you trust. Ask the seller specific questions about key features of the Microsoft software product you’re interested in buying:

  • Does the product come in its original packaging?
  • Does it come with a Certificate of Authenticity (COA)?
  • Is there a hologram on the DVD? If not, the DVD may be a reinstallation or recovery disc, which is one that typically comes with PCs with software preinstalled so that you can reinstall or recover the software if it stops working properly. Recovery disks are not licensed to be sold separately from the PC they were shipped with; if you try to install software from a recovery disk on a PC other than the one it was originally shipped on, you may not be able to activate and/or use it. (Check the licensing terms to determine what the license allows).
  • Has the software been installed and used before? If it’s previously been activated on the seller’s PC, you may not be able to transfer that license to another PC. (Check the licensing terms to determine what the license allows).
  • Is the seller offering a Microsoft Software Product Key? Product keys are never sold separately from the software itself, except as a genuine Microsoft Product Key Card. If you see a listing advertising product keys for sale, then the keys are probably stolen or counterfeit. If you were to purchase and use a stolen or counterfeit product key to activate Windows installed on your PC, or a second-hand Microsoft Product Key Card, the key may not work for activation, may already be in use on another PC, or it might be blocked from use later by Microsoft when the key is reported stolen.

Members should also consider our Digital Media listing policy as well.