Looking for additional savings? Beware of fake coupons on social media

Large stack of coupons to save money.

Everyone loves a good deal, and scammers know it. Counterfeit coupons are a popular way for crooks to steal your identity and money. Reasons and methods vary, but bogus coupons often mean big losses for retailers, consumers, or both.

How the scam works

You come across a website, whether it’s through a web search or a social media ad, for coupons from major retailers. Usually, fake coupons are worth a lot more than the real ones, offering big discounts like 80% off. Using the official logos of the brands, it is almost impossible to tell if it is fake or not.

In some cases, obtaining the “coupons” requires subscribing to a coupon service and paying a monthly membership fee. Once you sign up, the service promises to send you digital coupons or paper coupons in the mail. You may never receive coupons or receive fake coupons. Additionally, by signing up you have passed your personal information and possibly your credit card information to a dishonest stranger.

You may also come across coupons offering deals in exchange for sharing a link on social media. Do not do it ! The link leads to a third-party website where visitors enter personal information in exchange for the coupon. In most cases, after signing up, you never receive coupons. Instead, you gave your personal information to scammers.

How to Avoid Coupon Scams

  • Don’t fall for offers that are too good to be true. Be skeptical. If a coupon has a value near or above the retail price of an item, consider it a red flag.
  • Check the source of the coupon. If the coupon is not from a reputable coupon distributor, manufacturer, or specific store, beware. If you are unsure of a coupon, visit the company’s website directly to search for the coupon on their official website or contact customer service to inquire.
  • Think before you click on links in emails. If you receive a coupon by email, hover your mouse over the link without clicking it to see where it will take you. If the URL looks like a random assortment of letters and numbers, or if it’s a shortened link that doesn’t reveal where it’s taking you, don’t click on it. Only visit official websites to avoid downloading malware onto your computer.
  • Read coupons carefully. If a coupon doesn’t have an expiration date, looks photocopied, or contains spelling and grammar errors, you’re probably dealing with a forgery.
  • Don’t trade your personal information for benefits. A real business will not ask you for your personal information, such as your credit card number or bank account information, in exchange for a coupon or to participate in a giveaway. Promotional offers that ask for personal information are usually scams. You also shouldn’t have to pay to receive a coupon.
  • Do a search for coupon scams. If in doubt, search for the coupon offer with the word “scam”. This will often bring up similar offers which are bogus and can help you determine if a coupon is real or not.

For more information

Learn more about phishing scams to protect your personal information. Find more general advice at BBB.org/AvoidScams.

If you’ve spotted a coupon scam, report it. Share your experience at BBB.org/ScamTracker to help others recognize scams before it’s too late.