At your Better Business Bureau, we often say, “If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is.” But the phrase bears repeating every back-to-school season and again during holiday shopping months when bogus coupons for popular retailers begin to circulate again on social media sites.
Con artists will create online postings with fake coupons offering too good to be true discounts, ranging from $75 - $250 off, from well-known retail companies. Known companies with fake coupons circulating across social media platforms include Aldi, Dollar General, Kohl’s, Kroger and Target.
If you click on the attention-grabbing post, you may be asked to complete a survey, re-enter your account username and password, download a special app to print the coupon and/or click on a link that looks like the company’s website. However, these fake coupons are created to gain access to personal information. Completing the actions above can lead to identity theft, account hijacking, financial fraud and more.
Here are a few tips from your BBB to help identify online coupon hoaxes:
- Check directly with the source.Legitimate offers will originate from the company’s verified social media sites, app or official website, not from friends of friends or strangers on social media.
- Watch for copycats.It’s fairly easy for someone to steal logos and information from legitimate businesses and pose as a company online. Con artists will create similar looking websites and social sites and make emails appear to come from a legitimate sender.
- Consider the value of the offer.Is it too good to be true? Few businesses can afford to give away $100+ vouchers to anyone who shares a post or completes a survey.
To report coupon cons and other types of fraud found on social media, call your BBB at 256-533-1640 or go to the BBB Scam Tracker. You should also report fraudulent social media posts and pages to the appropriate social outlet using their reporting procedures. To find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org.