Here is an email I received from Elliot Greenblott,Vermont Coordinator AARP Fraud Watch Network:
If the on-line service is free, you are not the consumer, you are the product. Totally free has to be subsidized somehow and that somehow is often done through data harvesting.
One way to check these out is to go to reliable reviewers. I like checking out Consumer Reports, PC Magazine, PC World, and CNET. You do need to check out the features and be sure of what you need. Some licenses are very limited – one device, one specific operating system, with no bells and whistles. Others are full featured – cross platform, multiple device, cloud sharing, cloud storage and capable of making lattes and espresso. Many of the full-featured versions allow you to pick & choose the features you want – for example whether or not you get cloud storage and the size of the cloud storage. Often the features are offered at “a la carte” with add-on annual pricing.