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Home > Tips April 19th, 2018

Why Not to Buy Adobe Software on eBay, Craigslist or Amazon Mkt

[UPDATE – Adobe stopped selling CS6 entirely – here’s why… This means the CS products are no longer being made by the company, nor legitimately for sale through any channel in any country, from any vendor or reseller.]

Some folks think it might be a good idea to try to save a few bucks and buy Adobe software off of eBay, Craigslist, Amazon Marketplace, or from any vendor or seller who is unfamiliar.  It could be Creative Cloud, CS6, Photoshop, Lightroom, Acrobat, Elements, or any other title – in a retail, student, full or upgrade version… or sometimes it’s the “OEM” scam, or the plausible-sounding “extra” volume/enterprise license swindle, or an illegal black or “gray market” import.

But it’s actually not a very good idea at all.  Why?

Why You Should Never Buy Adobe Software on eBay, Craigslist, or Amazon Marketplace

The first problem is that Adobe does not recognize these venues as valid or authorized resellers, they are fully disregarded and invalid. So as a result, Adobe will not officially recognize any of those buyers as actually owning their software. Yes, you read that right.

Meaning, you think you own the genuine article but effectively you don’t. You cannot provide an accepted proof of purchase – so you can’t formally prove you own the products. You may not be able to transfer the software to someone else, nor be able to get product support or upgrade to the next version, etc…  You also aren’t able to return the software to get your money back from Adobe like you normally can.

Why doesn’t Adobe recognize the people that go through those places? Doesn’t that seem unfair? Can’t these software vendors who you’ve never heard of before be trusted?

No, because in this area, reputation matters… a lot.  The simple reason is – and the real problem is – that 90% of the software sold on places like eBay is counterfeit! Yes, it’s true. And it’s not a new problem.

Adobe states, “Purchasing from known and trusted sources is the best way to avoid risks. Avoid all online auction sites — they’re rife with counterfeiters. The only safe way to purchase genuine software for download is through the Adobe Store.”

So you can be pretty sure that what someone’s getting on those auction and vendor sites is not legitimate, not able to be legally transferred, and possibly even quite unsafe.

Fake or Hacked Software –> Unsafe Computer, Loss of Money, Stolen Information, or Worse

That last part is the real kicker. A great deal of the hacked and pirated Adobe software out there now is embedded with malware. These infections include viruses, worms, and trojans that can do significant harm to your computer, personal data, and privacy (like quietly stealing your sensitive information such as logins, passwords, and credit card numbers). Or increasingly, install ransom­ware to hold your entire hard disk hostage with no fix available.

Or put another way, you dramatically “increase your risk of exposure to viruses, spyware, or adware that can destroy (or, worse, publish to criminals) valuable data.”  But unfortunately, many people don’t learn about this until it’s too late.  Often they do this unknowingly – and are essen­tially paying someone to do it to them by buying the unauthorized software.

How prevalent is malware in illegal software? Well, just one example: China reportedly has a piracy rate of 79% – and a corresponding computer infection rate of nearly 70% – both are the highest in the world. There is a direct correlation.

Yes, there can occasionally be exceptions – but there are many more headlines over the years: “Adobe Creative Suite Crack Harvests Zombie Computers”“Malware Writers Target Would-Be Pirated Software Users”“Rogue Adobe Product Downloads Infect Machines with Undetected Keylogger”“Bootlegged Mac Photoshop Delivers New Trojan Horses”

The second Trojan was discovered Sunday, hidden inside torrented copies of Adobe Systems’ Photoshop program. Once installed, the software silently lets someone else take remote control of the computer and rob the sensitive data upon it.

The risk seems obvious for older or used/secondhand copies, right?  But even advertised “new in box” (NIB) items in seemingly original packaging can easily be fake (see what the FBI says about this here) – and it’s often very difficult to tell the difference from the outside of the packaging, or even from the inside.  As Adobe says, “… it can come with sophisticated-looking cases, manuals, and even registration cards. You’ll only discover software is pirated when you try to register it and can’t, often rendering the software unusable.” Or worse.

But even if the software within is authentic, it’s still breaking the law. Per the SIIA, “As this prosecution demonstrates, it is both a crime to create counterfeit software and a crime to sell authentic software without authorization.”  So in any event, these buyers still face all the other issues above.

And if anyone ever offers a download or serial number that’s coming from anywhere else other than Adobe – it’s definitely not genuine, or legal. There are countless stolen, pirated, or limited-life serial keys out there, and even Adobe can’t tell right away. Even if a sale looks good at the beginning, such licenses are usually revoked down the road.

The old advice applies here: anything that sounds too good to be true probably is, in pricing or otherwise… (note that Adobe’s true Student & Teacher Editions at up to 70% off including the $20 complete Creative Cloud are exceptions to this)

So what’s your best bet?

Ensure your Adobe software is genuine

The only safe and legal place to instantly download any of these products (either trial or full versions) is directly from Adobe’s servers.

And only safe and legal place to buy any boxed retail software is directly from Adobe itself, or through their officially authorized resellers or retailers.

They put all this in place to protect customers – not only from harmful or counterfeit software, but also protecting your rights as a legitimate buyer and recognized licensee of the products – fully able to receive customer service, technical support, important updates, and future upgrades.

See all the recommended tips on how to avoid Adobe piracy. And if the regular product prices are out of reach for you, see if you qualify for Adobe’s deeply-discounted education versions, or check out their affordable Creative Cloud offering including the successor to Creative Suite — the new CC 2019 release — which is guaranteed to be the genuine article.

See Also

Download New Adobe CC 2018 Free Trials (Direct Links)

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  1. Bobby Blu-ray

    @François GAYMARD
    As an occasional user, I, too, will never subscribe to CC.

  2. joe omo

    @Celia Murphy

    best of luck on keeping your CS6 active; just got my master collection deactivated after 4+ years of usage. bought it back on July 18th of 2014, specifically, so I would have a back-up in case I could no longer afford monthly subscriptions. also just an occasional user.

    I’m seriously thinking class action lawsuit at this point,

    1. per adobe, it’s no longer supported – ok no problem. so why would they care to check on an obsolete product?

    2. I’m not the person who stole it, assuming it ever was stolen in the first place.

    3. I downloaded it from the adobe website, registered and validated the product at that time.

    4. There should be a justifiable time limit as to when a software company can revoke a license. four years later seems ridiculously absurd to me. especially for what they consider an end-of-life software product.

    5. As a consumer in good faith of Adobe products, why was I not notified of such in a timely manner wherein I could have recovered my money and have law enforcement involved?

    6. why do other software companies I have dealt with not have this problem. With Microsoft if I buy their office suite, I do not get a notice 4 years later telling me the product is not genuine. If such a message pops up it, occurs on installation or within a few months when upgrading the product.

    7. pure and simple, this is greed on Adobe’s part; the only viable reason to do this on an EOL product is to force people onto their subscription service. I’m guessing they ran low on new subscriptions and need to push another batch of perpetual license holders into their cloud.

    8. I would love to see the marketing emails, perhaps a subpoena or two will blow this scam wide open, one upset customer can turn into millions. I have no problem dedicating the next year or so putting a list of affected users together. I get seriously obsessed when done wrong and I do not let go.

    9. adobe if you are paying attention, for 1200 USD of hard-earned money I will take you apart piece by piece. I do not have much, just another low-paid stiff, who purchased your product for personal websites and small projects. saved my pennies over a few years just to be able to afford the full suite. what I do have though is time and knowledge to blast this experience across the web, and collect the names of all those you have done wrong in pushing out your CC product.

    while I’m here, allow me to let your users know there are alternatives to your product that are far superior too, for example, Final Cut Pro.

  3. joe omo

    actually what Adobe is going to get is a class action lawsuit and a federal investigation. much in the same way, Microsoft got taken down years ago, making room for Linux to grow into a viable enterprise alternative.

    As a software company, they should not be deactivating software 4+ years after an installation was deemed a valid product registration.

    I purchased my CS6 Master collection on 7/18/2014, only to get a non-genuine product notice last night.
    The product has been discontinued as mentioned for a long time, support for the product has ceased to exist, yet they still test for a genuine product? ok fine, but I would think it would be on current and recent installs.

    this like me going to my insurance company and stating my car got stolen four years ago, oh my neighbor has it now. cross my fingers that he lost his proof of purchase.

    first question my insurance company is going to ask is why did I not report this theft in a timely manner. when and how did I discover my car was stolen.

    there has to be some kind of logical explanation behind Adobe checking my license for four years and then suddenly as if by magic discovering it was not genuine.

    were you traveling abroad for the last four years … response no, I was at home most of the time.
    did you check your driveway and garage regularly… oh yes, at least every other week.
    and yet you could not tell your car had been stolen? I just realized it last night.

    I wonder if the insurance company would pay my claim or tell me oh hell no.
    nor would an insurance company ask me for their money back if they found the car four years later.

    there should be a time limit on these types of claims, something like 90 days so a consumer can get their money back in extreme circumstance if consistently checking the product and you cannot flag it after a year let it go.

    Why would any company want to upset a customer by deactivating an EOL product purchased 4+ years ago??? how many of these types of installations can they possibly be recovering on an EOL product? the only possible reason for this tactic is to move people over to the subscription service, as if the 300 million per month in revenue on average is still not good enough.

    worst case scenario run the test and enumerate the number of systems with what you believe to have pirated software on it. then under an omissions clause explain why you were not able to catch this in a timely manner and submit it to an insurance company. that is if you absolutely feel like the millions of dollars already made in profits for the given product is not good enough.

    every business runs a margin for lost, scrap, damaged, and theft. this was written off the books years ago. go after the people who are actually hurting you i.e. those who produce the illegal software and keys, and leave your consumers alone. this is also why you have insurance, which most likely already paid for any excessive loss. you could prove above and beyond a standard shrink margin.

    all you are doing here is hurting the little guy who for 4 years touted your product to colleagues and friends. I doubt I will be telling people to buy adobe going forward if anything I will be telling them to avoid Adobe like the plague. Simply because based on my personal experience, adobe will burn you.

    basic questions on non-genuine products: how do you now know, and why so long?
    if Adobe did not issue the key then how could you not have known this at least 3 years ago?
    if this is a stolen key, can you provide valid provenance of who owned before me? why was I allowed to register, or why did it take the previous owner this much time to claim such a theft?
    if this was some unsold key, do you really accept returns after 4 years on EOL products???

    if other, please do explain how you came to the conclusion you are 100% without a doubt correct in this matter.

    no bugs in your validation software??? I would love to see the QA logs…
    do you maintain a list of serials issued, when was this list created?
    is it an algorithm that tests for valid keys, what changed in this algorithm over the last 4 years?
    what regression testing to ensure you covered all the possible scenarios of potential valid keys?
    did you recently add in machine learning, and cross your fingers it would not make a mistake.
    if you discover a bug in your validation, are you reinstating the keys you deactivated and notifying the end users of your mistake?

    just the tip of the iceberg on a federal investigation, wanna play?

    • Joe, where and who exactly did you purchase that copy of CS6 from in July 2014?

      You did not state that – but if you gave your money to anyone other than Adobe directly – or an Adobe authorized reseller – then you would have no case.

      (Not talking about where you downloaded the software from, but who/what actually shows on your proof-of-purchase or receipt.)

      If, on the other hand, you did buy it directly from Adobe or an official reseller, then you should contact them about your issue:

      The article and comments above have previously covered how there are countless stolen, cracked/pirated, or limited-lifetime serial numbers and illegal license keys out there, and even Adobe can’t tell right away… Sorry you seemed to have gotten caught up in it.

  4. PatriciaLee

    I bought a CS4 Master Suite in 2008 from a mac computer store when I got my new 17″ intel duo macbook pro. I’ve gotten other computers, since, and I have signed up and have been subscribing to the CC for some years, now. I go back to cs4’s software at times because I know it so well, etc. I came home a few weeks ago and needed to open and send a document for some kind of emergency. It was in pdf form on my desktop. I was off the cc, I guess, because there was a requirement for me to provide the email address and password to kick in the CC, in order to open the pdf document. (we’re talking PDF, the most common doc here, for heaven’s sake) I had to be connected to the cc cloud to open it.

    I couldn’t remember the email address I used and password in the panic of the moment, and having so many clouds in our lives. Eventually, I scrounged around for another copy on another backup drive, another computer or something. After several years of taking computer art/video classes where we used adobe cc, I had had it because we kept running into things made by one version could not be opened by another because the school’s cc classroom account upgrades were slower coming than the cc we got at home, etc. Now, all this was taken in a good-natured art camaraderie mood, until I could not open the pdf. Enough was enough. I want to do my basics with a cs6 program, so I can count on things even when the internet is down. The cc can be considered pro level in our life management, with the cs6 everyday. Adobe should let us get the CS6 master collection from them. Heck, they would make a lot of money.

    In the meantime, I need to find someone who owns one that will sell it to me and transfer the registration and license to me via Adobe’s website. There are provisions on the website to do so. I appreciate this article so much because it lets us know of real dangers. I feel I can speak up for all of us because some years ago I got a letter from Adobe telling me that I was getting two years of free credit monitoring. Why, I did not know… until a long time later there were articles about hacking, telling of Adobe’s hack along with others. They owe us some small concessions. I am using a download of my CS4 via my s/n etc. But it sounds like I had better keep a computer with a compatible OS in the wings, installing it via my discs.

    • Even with CS6, you still needed to log in with your Adobe ID username and password:

      The New Creative Suite CS6 Install – Why We Did It

      Regarding CC, as noted in previous comments, you do not need a constant or ongoing Internet connection to use the Creative Cloud applications… There is only the periodic requirement to check the current status of your subscription, to make sure it is still valid. Once Creative Cloud is installed and you are signed in, you should be able have that computer fully offline for up to 99 days + one month, for annual subscriptions:

      CC Internet Connectivity, Offline Grace Period, and Reminders

      If such checks never happened, then obviously someone could sign up for their first month of Creative Cloud, then disconnect their computer, cancel their plan, and never pay again… So that wouldn’t really make sense.

  5. PatriciaLee

    Maybe, we can humbly ask Adobe to let us buy CS6 to use if we were purchasers of earlier software, especially if we were informed we were given two years free credit monitoring some years ago. For sure they have a record of us.

  6. PatriciaLee

    OK, I guess I ran into the perfect storm, with the ‘periodic’ check happening at the same moment I needed to open the pdf. They should make pdf available 24/7 no matter what, imho. Your article does give pause in trusting other companies’ tech.

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