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Home > Tips February 18th, 2020

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

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[IMPORTANT NOTE – Adobe stopped selling CS6 entirely several years ago – here’s why… So the CS products are not 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 clearly 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.” For their mainline product, Creative Cloud, the software itself is non-transferable, thus it is never validly sold on eBay.

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 unlawful 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”“Warning: The Pirate Bay currently has countless viruses disguised as downloads”“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.

The Adobe Genuine Software Integrity Service - How It Works

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 2020 release — which is guaranteed to be the genuine article.


See Also

Get the New Creative Cloud 2020 Direct Download Links

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  1. Milton Kinne

    I bought my CS5 Premium suite from the Indiana University bookstore back in 2012 (already had CS2 from several years before). I had to upgrade my desktop this month (mar 2020) and magically I started getting the software is not legit error despite the fact that Adobe’s own server shows me as being the licensed user of the CS software. Adobe Customer Svc is great at telling you they’re really sorry for the inconvenience but there’s nothing they can do – plus they don’t return calls!

  2. Yet another cautionary tale:

    “The serial number you have entered has been revoked. This product cannot be licensed.”

    March 16, 2020

    Apparently up until last year these counterfeit serial numbers were getting through and once activated, Acrobat would remain fully functional. They have since cracked down on it and have been disabling these counterfeit keys so that they cannot be used further. Adobe has provided me a written confirmation in an email that the serial number is a counterfeit. I have contacted the reseller for a refund. Hopefully they will agree to it after seeing the confirmation from Adobe. Otherwise I will ask for legal advice.

  3. McCheese

    “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.”

    Actually, Adobe doesn’t allow for some countries to purchase the product directly, but with a reseller – but the resellers only sell the adobe for small companies, not for individuals. So, Adobe is also part of the reason why people have to crack it. They fail to provide users worldwide a way to acquire their product in a legit way.

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