Think twice before buying discounted Microsoft Office or other computer software

You know the old adage, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” – It’s just as true today as it was the first time I heard it many years ago.

Reading an article on WYFF 4 site entitled “Top 10 Most Counterfeited Items” has computer software lumped in with other optical media, which is ranked #5 in that list and they claim it accounted for 7% of seizures in 2010.

The article states these are the top 10 counterfeited items, but what it really means is that it is the top 10 list of counterfeit items that were actually seized. Bear in mind that many many others are sold and never discovered by or reported to authorities.

It doesn’t have to be a shady character selling software out of the back of their car, or at a table at your local flea market, in fact, the bigger sales are by websites that appear to be legitimate vendors. These often offer the software available for download, or they will send you the media for a few extra dollars along with the license key.

They distribute keys that are corporate keys, or in some cases, keys that have been taken off the bottom of computers (OEM) and keys that have been generated.

You can save 10, 20, even 100 dollars per product license, but then one day, you may find the product no longer activates because the software developer caught on and blacklisted that key.

What about Best Buy, Staples and other stores as a legitimate source for software? Some unscrupulous employees have been replacing actual legal software with counterfeits, and then selling the originals themselves, leaving those who purchase the product from the store with a bogus version. This is not nearly as widespread as outright sales of the illegal software.

How can you protect yourself from fakes? Consider the supply source, and if a lot of hands touch the product before you get it, it COULD have been replaced with a knock-off. So examine the packaging carefully before accepting it. Is it shrink wrapped or otherwise sealed? That’s good, but not always a surefire way to tell. Look at the quality of the packaging. Legitimate software has quality artwork, no typos or misspelled words (in most cases) and is generally high quality packaging.  Do not accept it if it doesn’t look right to you.

Discounted beyond belief?  Even 10 dollars is a LOT when it comes to software these days.  Think twice before buying that discounted Microsoft Office or Microsoft Windows because there is a reason it is cheap.

For the record, the mark-up many software packages is around 10%, so there’s not a lot of wiggle room there. If every place is selling the product for 200 and you can get it for 175 at Discount City, something is wrong.

Use reputable vendors, preferably one where you can go back and talk with them if there is an issue.

Homeland Secure IT can help you with your software needs in Greenville & Upstate, SC. We are partners with Microsoft, Symantec, Trend, and a whole range of software companies. Let us help you stay legal. Call us at 864.990.4748 or email


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