Affiliate marketing scams display certain common characteristics.
Since the complexity and nature of these scams change as fast as technology, it is not possible to create an exhaustive list. However, the following are good indicators that a program should be treated with caution.
No affiliate support contact
When an affiliate program gives a toll-free number, it is a good indication that it can be trusted. However, lack of a phone contact does not always mean the program should be avoided. The internet mostly has email contact, and many websites have put up their contact support system accordingly. If the website for an internet income opportunity has no contact form or email though, you could be facing an affiliate marketing scam. Once you find the contact form or email, you should send a message with a short question to see how fast the company responds. If you don't get a response to your question in few days, be cautious. The company may not be trying to scam you, but if they are slow in responding to emails, they are not doing right.
No web site
A legitimate internet income opportunity will have a comprehensive website, giving information and showing energy and time has been spent in planning. While the presence of a website does not guarantee a program's legitimacy, the absence of one should be viewed with more skepticism.
No service or product
What is the company selling? If it is only the chance to make money, then it is probably a pyramid scheme. Since money is only coming from people joining the organization, there is no income being generated. This business model is flawed, as well as illegal in many countries.
No free participation
If you must pay a company to sell their product and raise their profits, that is not an affiliate program but some kind of multi-level marketing (MLM). Not all MLM schemes are scams, and some people have succeeded at MLM. Real affiliate marketing programs are free to join. If things don't work out, you will not have lost any money.
No positive testimonials
Though affiliate programs are free, you will invest quite a bit of your precious time. Before making the sacrifice, spend time searching the internet for people's experience with your program. Don't entirely depend on the testimonials posted on the website. A search with the name of the program and the word "scam", "experience" or "review" is a good starting place.
No track record
A good affiliate program will continue being a good affiliate program for some time. Treat brand new opportunities with caution. If you want to find out if a program is legitimate, it is better to wait for a while.