If you haven’t done your Christmas shopping by now, you may have to contend with the crowds at the mall. If you are shopping online, don’t fall for this fake seller scam.
A recent survey found that the average American spends about $800 on holiday gifts. That’s a lot of money, so consider using coupons to lessen the financial blow.
See how scammers use coupon clippers to steal information.
here’s the inside story
If you read newspapers and magazines after October, chances are good that you will find discount coupons. Usually not that many. 15% off here, he’s 5% off there. But little by little it helps.
However, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns about fake coupons circulating online, and you should be aware of them.
Here’s how it works: You come across the website through web searches or social media ads for coupons at major retailers. In most cases, fake coupons are much more valuable than genuine coupons, offering significant discounts of up to 80% off. Impersonating the official logo makes it nearly impossible to tell if it is fake.
You may be required to subscribe to a coupon service and pay a monthly fee to obtain a coupon. When you sign up, the service promises to email you a digital or paper coupon.
The problem is that you may not receive the coupon at all or you may receive a fake coupon. Additionally, by signing up, you are giving your details and possibly your credit card information to the thief.
You may also come across coupons offering deals in exchange for sharing the link on social media. don’t do that!
Links lead to third-party websites where visitors enter personal information in exchange for coupons. In most cases, you will not receive any coupons after signing up. Instead, I ended up giving my personal information to the scammers.
How to Avoid Coupon Scams
BBB has some tips to help you avoid falling victim to coupon scams. Here are some ideas:
- Don’t be fooled by overly lucrative deals. Skeptical. If the coupon value is close to or above the retail price of the item, consider it a red flag.
- Check the source of the coupon. Be careful if the coupon is not from an authorized coupon seller, manufacturer or specific store. If you don’t know the coupon, you can directly go to the company’s website to find it on the official website, or contact the customer service line to inquire.
- Think twice before clicking links in emails. If you received a coupon by email, hover your mouse over the link instead of clicking on it to see the link. If the URL looks like a random combination of letters and numbers, or is a shortened link that you don’t know where to go, don’t click it. Visit only official websites to avoid downloading malware on your device.
- Please read the coupon carefully. If the coupon has no expiration date, appears to be photocopied, or contains spelling or grammatical errors, it is likely fake.
- Do not trade personal information for rewards. Real businesses never ask for personal information such as credit card numbers or bank account information in order to redeem a coupon or enter a giveaway. Promotional offers that ask for personal information are usually fraudulent. Also, you don’t have to pay anything to receive the coupon.
- Search for coupon scams. When in doubt, search for coupon offers and the word “fraud”. This often shows fake similar offers and can help you determine if a coupon is genuine or not.
If you believe you have encountered a coupon scam, please report it. Help others spot scams by sharing your experience at BBB.org/ScamTracker.
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