Steve Weisman is an attorney, professor, author, and one of the nation’s leading experts on cybersecurity, identity theft, and fraud.See more from Stevecon watch article.
With the holiday shopping season well underway, many people are looking for coupons to cut costs. Like many things in our lives, coupons previously commonly found in newspapers and magazines have migrated online.
Unfortunately, social media has become a breeding ground for fake online coupons. Counterfeit coupons look pretty legit. It is very easy to copy the company logo to make a fake coupon look like the real thing.
Many coupon scams require you to complete a survey that requires you to provide a lot of personal information in order to qualify for a coupon. This information is used by scammers to make you a victim of identity theft.
Other versions will ask you to enter your credit card number. Or you may have to purchase an expensive item to claim a “free” coupon.
Many coupon scams also require that the coupon be forwarded to a friend. These fake coupons look more legitimate as they are from trusted sources.
Finally, some coupon scammers often participate in coupon forums to sell counterfeit coupons. There, victims purchase fake coupons, believing that the value of the coupons is significantly higher than the purchase price.
Ultimately, in all these scams, coupons are worthless.
Fake coupons are big business for scammers. In 2021, Lori Ann Talens and her husband Pacifico Talens Jr. were convicted of running a large-scale counterfeit coupon fraud scheme selling fake coupons through social her media and online coupon enthusiast groups. I received Lori Ann Talens was sentenced to 12 years in prison and her husband to her seven years.
How can I protect myself from fake coupon scams?
As always, the first rule is that if a coupon looks too good to be true, it’s usually a scam. I’m here. No company can afford to distribute a huge number of coupons at that value. (While legitimate research participants may be promised opportunities, it must be emphasized that chance — to win great prizes in sweepstakes; )
The FBI advises against paying for coupons or downloading coupons from Internet forums.
One way to determine if a coupon is legit is to look at the expiration date printed on most coupons. Many, but not all, fake coupons do not have an expiration date.
The best way to determine if a coupon is legitimate is to visit the website of the particular company claiming to offer the coupon and see what is actually available. Genuine coupons available online also appear on his website for the real company.
Finally, Coupon Information Corporation is a non-profit organization of manufacturers dedicated to fighting coupon fraud. Their site features many of the fake coupons currently in circulation.
Become a member of The Saturday Evening Post and enjoy unlimited access.