With an increase in online coupons that are being distributed through social media,Better Business Bureau serving Eastern North Carolina (BBB) wants to make sure consumers are sure they are the real deal and not scams before trying to click on links or print them.
How the Scam Works:
The fake coupon scam has been making a comeback lately in a big way. Often found circulating on social media sites, such as Facebook, counterfeit coupons could have several goals for the scammer. Sometimes coupons are just a way for a site to generate extra hits online, but often times their goal is more malicious. They are often aiming to steal personal information and, of course, your money. Among the most frequently distributed phony coupons recently were: 50 percent off at Target; $50 off Lowe’s purchases; $100 off at Aldi’s; and $75 off at Bed, Bath and Beyond. These coupons were widely circulated on Facebook and many consumers were fooled.
BBB serving Eastern NC offers the following tips for identifying coupon scams:
Be skeptical. The better the deal looks, the more likely it is fake. It’s easy for scammers to steal colors, logos and headers of established businesses to create phony coupons. If you are unsure if a coupon is phony, BBB recommends visiting the company’s website to look for the coupon or contacting the company directly.
Look at the expiration date. Most coupons have one. The absence of one is an indication that the coupon may be phony. Remember that coupons for free items usually expire quicker than others.
Verify the source. If a coupon comes to you in an email, hover your mouse over the link (without clicking) and the URL destination address should appear. If that address looks like a random assortment of number and letters, don’t click on it. Remember that there should be an “s” after “http” in the URL to indicate it’s a secure site. No “s” may mean it’s a phishing attempt to get your information or to install malware on your computer.
The Coupon Information Corporation has a long list online of fake coupons to watch out for. The popularity of Facebook has greatly enabled distribution for scammers who put fake coupons out there. Friends then share the coupons online and a huge snowball effect is put in place. View any coupon or special offer that you see on social media with a heavy dose of skepticism, especially when it looks too good to be true.