Consumer Alert: Retail Coupon Scams

The scam is usually spotted on social media sites, like Facebook.

Posted: Jun 19, 2020 9:05 AM

VIGO COUNTY, Ind. (WTHI) - Alia talks with Tim Maniscalo, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau of Central Indiana.

With more people at home, and shopping online, because of the pandemic, The BBB is seeing a rise in retail coupon scams.

The scam is usually spotted on social media sites, like Facebook.

The post, which is usually reshared by others, advertises extreme discounts and coupons from big retailers. Some popular stores, imitated by scammers, include Bath & Body Works, Home Depot, Costco, Aldis, Trader Joe's and Starbucks.

The post also includes a link, to a third party site, in order to redeem the special offer. Though the site may appear harmless, Maniscalo says it's a sneaky attempt to get your personal information, or install malware on your device. 

The BBB recommends the following to protect yourself:

  • Be skeptical. 
    If the offer seems "too good to be true", it likely is. While the coupon may look real, scammers are known to steal company logos and copy images to fool you. The BBB says your best bet is to always visit the real company's website to verify the offer.
  • Look at the expiration date.
    Most coupons and offers have a "valid through" date at the bottom, or in fine print. If it's missing an expiration date, the BBB says it is likely a fake. Also, experts say coupons for free items usually expire quicker than others.
  • Verify the source.
    If you get a coupon through e-mail, hover your mouse over the website link (do not click). By doing this, you can view the website URL. If the web address includes a variety of random numbers and letters, it is a fake.
  • Check to see if website is secure.
    Real websites should include "https" in the URL. If it's missing an "s", it is likely a phishing attempt, or a trap to install malware.
  • Do a web search.
    The BBB recommends searching the offer, business name and the word "scam". Entering those phrases, in the search bar, usually bring up information about fake offers and what is real.
  • Don't share your personal information.
    Real businesses and companies never ask for personal information, like bank accounts and credit card numbers, for coupon giveaways. Promotional offers, that ask for such information, is almost always a scam.

With any scam, you can always report it through the BBB Scam Tracker

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