Have you ever noticed those deals on Facebook that say you can claim a free, brand new iPad by simply clicking a link? Or perhaps you’ve seen those online advertisements promising other free swag by simply giving them your address and phone number? If so, those are starting to become a huge problem and are unfortunately too good to be true!
According to The Huffington Post, a whopping “63% of shoppers search for online coupons or deals when they purchase something on the internet, according to a poll conducted by Ipsos Public Affairs on behalf of Offers.com,” Because of this uptick in ecommerce, “…there was a more than 50% increase in the number of stores and companies with offers on the site.”
Grocery stores have seen a surge in fake coupons as well, reports Scam Busters. One of the bigger ones happens to be a fake coupon for Doritos and other name-brand snack items that normally don’t have fake coupons for freebies. However, the previous iPad scam will bombard you with telemarketers and spam in your inbox, whereas the Doritos one will probably make you feel super embarrassed during check-out.
So, how do you make sure you’re not being scammed? Here are some warning signs to watch out for:
- Online coupons are always free. No matter what people tell you, simple coupons for grocery shopping and consumer goods are always free to find online, such as Coupons.com and other such sites.
- Sounds too good to be true? It might just be. Unfortunately, a coupon that states “free PS3” or “free full bag of Doritos chips” is more than likely false, unless the company itself has said something otherwise.
- Coupon site does the switcheroo. If you try to redeem the coupon online to use in a store and the website suddenly redirects you to a form and asks for sensitive information such as an address, phone number, and credit card information, it’s more than likely a scam and it’s best to just drop out of the website completely.
- Always check for expiration dates and usage rights. If your coupon seems rather bare, as in there’s no expiration date or a small paragraph explaining its usage, then it’s fake.
- Freebies are not full-sized items. Most freebies that come with a coupon are usually “buy one, get one free” or redeemable for a product sample for you to try, never a full-sized packaged item.
Sometimes fake coupons can be very convincing, so if you find yourself using one at the store and it’s rejected, don’t worry! As CouponSherpa writes in their blog, “[W]rite to the merchant’s customer service department with the name of the store, the person with whom you spoke, a copy or link to the coupon and where you got it.” Also, you can always report your fradulent findings to the FTC at their website.
What are some legitimate coupon websites out there? Some of them include:
Otherwise, always double check coupons you find online to avoid being scammed. Have you ever seen a fake coupon out in the wild? Let us know about your fake coupon experiences in the comments below.