During the COVID-19 pandemic, more people are spending time online, which means more time on social media. In fact, Facebook shared that the platform's services had increased by 50% in countries ravaged by the virus.1
Spring and Summer are full of holidays and occasions that often provide us with a wide range of online sales and coupons, like Mother and Father's Day, graduations, weddings, Memorial Day, and more. Following the rise in social media and online use, The BBB sent out a warning 2 to be extra careful. Scammers are using social networks — especially Facebook — to offer counterfeit coupons that could lead to identity theft, malware, and other harmful consequences.
The most common fake coupons distributed offer free merchandise in return for sharing links on social media, disguised as well-known companies: Bath & Body Works, Costco, Aldis, Starbucks, and Trader Joe's.
What harm can sharing a coupon do?
The links will mostly take the customers to a third-party website that has one goal - stealing information. Not only will the customer never receive a coupon, but they will end up with malware on their device too, and their information could end up in the wrong hands or on the dark web.
Clean up your browser and prevent future scams
How to keep safe from fake coupons on social media:
- Go to the Facebook page the posted the coupon, and check if it has a blue checkmark next to the name. Only legitimate businesses and official pages get this mark, and it's a great way to detect pages in disguise.
- If you received a coupon vie an email promotion, check the sender's domain and what site you are being directed to, if it's not the official site's domain - it's probably a scam.
- Use a browsing security tool that will detect malicious sites before you enter them. Guardio, for example, will give you an alert so that even if you clicked the ad, you would know this site is dangerous, and you can back out.
- To be 100% sure, contact the company's customer service and ask them if the coupon is valid. They will be able to validate if the coupon is real, and you will also be alerting them on the fraud, enabling them to take action.