8 Ways to Avoid Affiliate Scams – Don’t Get Ripped Off

graphic of a credit card hooked by a phishing scam hookAs you start to learn how to earn money online as an affiliate, you’ll be researching and evaluating affiliate offer and opportunities to promote. The main Affiliate networks are generally very safe, as the programs are vetted by the network and less than reputable ones are simply ditched. It’s normally just a matter of picking your product to suit your niche and then incorporating into your website.

Even as an affiliate though, it’s important not to promote disreputable offers and the safety checks that need to be done apply just as much to the affiliate marketer as to the general surfer. Don’t be drawn in by or promote rubbish. It will cause you a whole lot of hassle and grief.

The 8 checks you need to do to promote good products

Rule 1: Can you try it before you buy it without committing any money?

You want to be able to try out the offer without giving out your credit card details. Can you do that? If you can’t, then the offer is probably a scam. If it’s a genuine attempt to help you make money online, it won’t want all the money upfront before you can truly evaluate the product.

Genuine courses will spread themselves over a long period, like a college term. You simply can’t learn the skills to make money overnight. If the scheme says that and demands your dosh to reveal how it’s done, it’s a scam. This rule actually supersedes all other rules. If you only take heed of this one rule you’ll protect yourself against 80-90% of all dodgy online offers.

Rule 2: Beware the Penny Sale – up sells are coming.


graphic of a donkey following a carrot on a stickYou suddenly get an email out of the blue telling you that you can be making thousands of pounds or dollars in a very short period, all you have to do is spend a few pounds. It sounds totally affordable, but beware. It’s a penny sale.

Ever see the picture of the donkey following the carrot that’s strapped to a pole in front of his eyes? That’s what the scammer is doing to you. He offers you the carrot, but as soon as you ‘take advantage’ of the cheap introductory price and give your card details, he’ll add another up selling offer, just a little more expensive, then another and another, until you suddenly find the £10 item has cost you £170.

STOP THERE! If you’ve paid £10 and you get an immediate up sell, cut your losses and bail out immediately. Unsubscribe from that email and move on.

Rule 3: Assume that any online guarantees are totally worthless.

With a lot of online offers, you see the author giving his 100%, no questions asked, lifetime money back guarantee. What is the good of a guarantee if it can’t be enforced? What chance do you think you have of getting your money back once it’s in their hands? None, the guarantee cannot be enforced.

That’s why it’s so important to be able to try out before you part with any money. Refer to rule no. 1

Rule 4: If they show you piles of money, Ferraris, cars, or million pound houses, it’s a scam.

Showing you pictures of wads of dollar bills or £10 notes, fast unaffordable cars and houses that cost in excess of a million are a sure sign of a scam. These might be achievable for the scammer if he can persuade enough people to part with their hard earned cash, but you won’t be seeing any of those kinds or riches.

If you get greedy and fall for it, you’ll have been scammed, hook, line and sinker. Run the other way to keep your money.

Rule 5: Beware of artificial urgency, aka The Coundown Clock

graphic showing a countdown clock designed to hurry an offerYou’ll often see the scammer say ‘take action now, because this video won’t be up for very long’. It’s designed to make you go into panic mode. Get it before it’s gone! That’s the message. Commonly there’s a countdown clock on the squeeze page, giving you only 9 days, 11 hours, 43 minutes and counting to get this one-time offer for only £79.99 (or pay the full price of £299.99). It’s designed to make you stump up your cash without proper evaluation.

Any real offer will give you plenty of time for you to make your mind up whether the material is worth your cash or not. If you find yourself in this situation, it’s probably a scam. If the clock gives you 10 days to look over the offer and decide if it’s for you before you need pay, it might not be a scam. Read all the other rules though to make sure there are no other warning signs.

Rule 6: Don’t Give Out Your Phone Number, or else give a false one.

Your mobile cellphone number is valuable. So is your email address. Scammers want your details for a reason, so they can call you or bombard you with emails. They’ll use professional telemarketing people to try to part you with your cash. If they get hold of your details, and manage to get other information such as your date of birth or mother’s maiden name, you could open yourself up to all kinds of trouble, including identity theft.

Your details can be sold on to the highest bidder and once it’s out there you have no further control in where it ends up. Your phone number and email address will tie it all together and make it a scammers/fraudsters dream ticket.

Rule 7: Search for the Offer Online – look for other reviews.


graphic showing a tick list with the worst tickedIf there’s an offer out there that you may be interested in and think maybe worth checking out, just have a look on the internet to see if anyone else has bought it. What are there opinions? Generally, a scam will get a response online, with multiple victims venting their anger at how they’ve been ripped off.

Do a search on Google for ‘offer name’ +complaints. If any bad reviews show up, beware. Is there a common thread? Does everybody think it’s a rip off? Even if there are reviews with glowing praise, a link in the same review may point to an affiliate link. Tread carefully until you are confident.

Rule 8: Read the Disclaimer, it’ll tell you all you need to know.

Always, always read the disclaimer on a website offer. Generally, scams will be all sweetness and light in their claims, but when you read the disclaimer it’ll back track on all the positives mentioned in the bold print. Read the small print. This is where the scammer covers themselves legally to take your money.

If the disclaimer contradicts the sales pitch, it’s probably a scam.

Stop seeking opportunities, instead be an Entrepreneur.

graphic showing a man on an entrepreneurial staircase to successLooking for opportunities to make money on the internet is like a junkie looking for his next fix. It’s a state of mind where you seek instant gratification, only to experience a rapid come down and ultimate disappointment. The thrill of finding the next surefire way of making money can be very addictive. You totally believe that millionaire status is just around the corner for you. “This time next year Rodney, we’ll be millionaires”.

If this is you STOP!!!!!

Opportunity products are not designed to make you successful! They are totally designed to separate you from your hard-earned money, and that is all they will do for you. You won’t make much money out of Opportunities.

Instead, be an Entrepreneur. A good business person knows that to make money online, he’ll have to build that business first. He knows that it isn’t about a Magic Button or a Never To Be Repeated Opportunity. It takes effort. It isn’t a Get Rich Quick thing. It’s building a successful career, being respected and regarded as the go-to person in your niche. You need to create real value for the customer to succeed.

Wham Bam Thank You Mam! will get you nowhere in Affiliate Marketing.

The Real Secret to Making Money as an Affiliate Marketer

It’s all about helping people to get what they want.

You can connect with millions of customers all over the World using the internet, but if you don’t know how to help them, you’ll ultimately fail in your quest. lf people feel they know, like and trust you, you’ll be a success. The hard part is learning how to do that, time and time again.

Get yourself educated and be in it for the long term. Ask questions, never be afraid of that. There’s a wealth of knowledge out there to help you make it, just make sure you Follow the Wheat, not The Chaff.

Read what another Marketer says:

Another Article About Avoiding Scammers


dave is the owner and main writer on Earn Online, a website designed to encourage affiliate success.


  1. Great article Dave. There are times when you come across offers or schemes too good to be true and then you have to act wise, step back and analyse. And that’s exactly the 8 checks that are essential to be validated. Look forward to reading more from you.

    • Hey, Rudolph, great to hear from you. The checks are the ones I go through when evaluating a product. Glad you think the post is valuable. Are there any topics you’d like me to write about specifically?

  2. Wow Dave…you really drilled down on this topic of how to avoid scams while searching for legit affiliate offers online. You possible have exposed about 95% of the lame offers out there. Way to go!

    Also love your “How To…” articles.

    I appreciate that you share honest info with people for free I guess that’s because you believe there is enough business for everyone so you don’t need try and grab the cash and go like some others.

    Keep up the awesome work!

    • Thanks Tim, I try to always give my own impression on things, normally I do a lot of research before posting, then assemble everything around a skeleton outline. I have my own promoted products on the blog, but will rarely refer to them directly and won’t generally link to them in an article.

      I’ve found that ‘How To’ articles generally get ranked quite well by Google, and they are the types of posts people like to read.

  3. Great post and lots of valuable tips.
    I would like to add that people be careful of reviews as well. A lot of new bloggers get in with affiliate programs that encourage them to promote that product above all others, even if it is not a very good product compared to others. Then you see a ton of people promoting a shoddy product, and all trying make a dollar from it.

    Check out the website. Does it look new? Amateurish? Do they seem a bit hostile? What qualifications do they have to be recommending products? Good quality products speak for themselves and do not need people to promote them, but rather if someone has been successful with that product, then they can tell the story of how that product helped them and let the reader decide if it is a good product or not.

    • Hi Irma, thanks for your comments.

      You are quite right in the points you make. The affiliate is always destined to promote the product they’ve invested in, it’s human nature to back your decision that way, even if the product is a bit of a lemon!

      Due diligence in everything is the answer I think.

  4. This are excellent tips to avoid scams. When you’ve been through as many scams as I have, you get to spot them a mile away and you finally avoid them. With Wealthy Affiliate there’s not an issue because it is totally legitimate and a program you can join for free.
    It’s a simple 4 step process of choosing a niche, building a website, getting traffic, and creating income. But you need to take action and follow the training! Wealthy Affiliate can change your life!

    • Hi Rob, thanks for the comment. I’ve seen some shocking scams in my time and in the early days I have to admit I fell for a couple myself. I’ve got to admit that the Wealthy Affiliate program is the best training i’ve seen for Affiliates.

  5. Wow, very informative post.
    I really enjoyed reading it.
    Thanks for the tips on promoting good products.
    I’ll certainly take it into consideration.

  6. Anyone looking to make money online should read this.
    I will be honest, more than a bell has resoundingly rung when reading your article.
    As for the 5th tip, I would like to share a story: 6 months ago, I got in touch with a so called – better said self-proclaimed – Instagram guru. After a couple of dm he dropped me his website link, inviting me to take a look at it.
    I did it and signed up to his newsletter out of curiosity…. Right as you said he started to bombard me with those countdown clock mails!
    The thing was I did not like his style one bit. He was like: “Either you join my secret Instagram course or you will be a loser for life. Last chance to become a winner, grab this offer before it is too late.” I do not know where he studied marketing, but definitely not in Harvard. I could have just unsubscribed, yet I felt the need to tell him I was not fond of his marketing strategy. I did it politely, but he did not take it too kindly: he basically showed his true colours and started to call me names right after telling him: “I think you should change your approach. If you are so confident in your strategy, why does it have an expiry date? ”
    He said he was a winner, he had 100k+ followers, he was making tons of money blablablayawn… I was a hopeless case, instead…He tried to give me a helping hand but I was too much of a loser. I shrugged it off saying that money could not buy good manners, honesty or intelligence. One month later I got to know that his account was terminated and his website just fell off the face of search engines. It turned out that his secret Instagram course was a total scam. Would you believe it? lol
    Say you bought his course, you got a one-page pdf featuring a sort of a decalogue. It was like: publish some quality pictures, stay active, reply to all comments, be polite (like him LOL), be friendly and other absolutely banal suggestions. Clearly, someone did not like wasting 80 dollars like that and reported/sued him. Complaints heaped up and BAMMM, shattered dreams!
    Oh, I just could not help sending him an email to set the record straight about who the real loser was. 😀
    Sorry for being unable to cut a long story short, but I had to share it. Keep up the good work Dave, I am the proof you are speaking the truth!

    • Thanks Andrew, that gave me a bit of a chuckle. We’ll continue the war against scams and promote good content and programs like WA. There really isn’t anywhere better in my opinion.


  7. if I flash my Ferrari and Lamborghini with some sexy ladies in it, telling you this is my lifestyle. Sign up with me, would you come with me? I am curious how easy a person can fall in into such thing on the internet. It shows that this technique works in a way.

    • It works to entice you, but there will be no longevity in it. The member will fail and abandon the program, then won’t return to affiliate marketing because he’ll have been scammed. Once you fall into the trap, you’re a sucker.

  8. Great article that reveals a few hard truths. Unfortunately people are always looking for a quickly get rich scheme and that’s why most people fail at this type of work. Affiliate marketing needs lots and lots of work, time and dedication and you need to go with the right mindset to succeed. There is nothing different than building your own brick and mortar business that needs time, money and dedication before it even starts making any money. Hopefully your advice will help new people avoid scams that may look and sound tempting but offer you nothing more than taking your hard earned money.

    • Thanks for your comment Stratos K. It’s true that everyone these days seem to be looking to get rich quick. We of course know that it isn’t possible. Unfortunately what happens is the scammers get the good guys a bad reputation. There are great programs out there, like Wealthy Affiliate, that will guide you to success, but people aren’t disciplined enough to put the work in. I challenge anyone reading this – let the folks at Wealthy Affiliate guide you, don’t follow any of the other ridiculous programs being touted on Facebook. They don’t work!

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