With stay-at-home orders and social distancing still the norm for much of the United States, people are relying on social media more than ever. Unfortunately, that provides an opportunity for scammers.
A proliferation of coupon scams has popped up on social media, especially Facebook. Here’s how to avoid getting tricked by these convincing fakes.
The Better Business Bureau issued a warning this week for consumers. They found a huge number of coupon scams on Facebook, including offers for popular retailers such as:
Who wouldn’t want to save money or get free merchandise from those places? The lure of free or discounted stuff is always tempting, especially if all you have to do is click.
That’s what scammers are counting on. These fake coupons offer major savings or upwards of $100 in free merchandise. But when you click on the ad, it takes you to a third-party website where you need to enter your personal information or create a “free account” to access your deal.
This type of phishing scam is more prevalent than ever because of COVID-19. We’ve seen it in emails targeting healthcare workers and government employees, and now we’re seeing it on social media. The scam also encourages people to share it with their friends, offering additional discounts for those who post it on their own timelines.
Your best defense against scams is common sense. Does the deal seem way too good? Then there’s a solid chance you are actually looking at a scam.
However, if you aren’t sure that the coupon is fake, you can do a little detective work. Instead of clicking on the link from your Facebook, go directly to the company’s website or official social media account. If the deal is the real thing, you should find it on there.
Be extremely wary of any offer that requires a download. The moment you click that button, you’re inviting scammers to download malware onto your device. This malicious software can steal your personal information or cause havoc with your device.
Another trick? Look for an expiration date. Almost all legitimate coupons end at some point. If you don’t see an end date to this amazing deal, then chances are good that it’s a fake.
If you already clicked on a link, look at the address bar and see if it is secure. The address should begin with “https.” That “s” stands for “secure,” and it means that you are probably safe. Without it, you might be on an unsafe site.