These are some of the "sounds too good to be true" warning signs:
1. Prices are below most reputable online sellers -- such as Amazon.com.
2. If the webmaster is telling you the reasons why they are legal -- may not be.
3. If there is a statement that says "you give up the right for a chargeback" (chargeback -- a return of the product, and thus, the return of your money to your pocket). Or, here is a really scary statement that they may have in small print -- that they can counter-sue you for any chargebacks you may put into action against them.
4. If you have to use a special number -- no not the registration number -- more than likely it is an illegal version.
5. Registration -- sellers says the software cannot be registered.
6. No warranty offered.
These are the obvious signs that this software could be illegal. Always take the time too look at "Whois" to see how long a retailer has been online: 1) less than a year -- first warning sign 2) only has an IP address with no name, address, etc. -- second warning sign.
What If I Get It Anyway?
Maybe you're saying to yourself, "Surely it can't hurt. And it's so cheap!" That's the draw. But it can open you to some of the following problems:
1) Credit Card scam
2) No technical support
3) No manuals
4) Software is basically a "what you see is what you get". You got it, no upgrades.
5) The software could have a virus installed with the software. As a matter of fact, illegal software has been one major source for causing damage to computer systems and data.
Example of possible virus download: An individual worker found a Pacman game (though not illegal to obtain) on the Internet while surfing the net at home and decided to download the game onto a floppy to play it at work during the slow times. Just as an added bonus to his benign neglect, he didn't do a virus check on the floppy to make sure the game was clean. He took it to work, popped the floppy into his hard-drive and blindly downloaded the game to play it at his leisure. Low and behold -- Pacman game came with Pacman virus. That happy little critter slowly began to eat away at the hard-drive. Results of his actions, downtime and lost productivity for the company. Worker -- a week of lost wages for the indiscretion.
6) You could face penalties for using illegal software -- which can be significant.
When is it not illegal?
Oem software is illegal when it is not used according to the software license agreement.
In most cases, OEM software is legal when it is distributed with specified accompanying hardware. If the OEM software is legitimate, don't expect user manuals, original retail packaging of the software, or the technical support that is usually provided by the hardware provider.