Recently, A Moment’s Peace’s client presented a discount code they obtained from a fraudulent site.  Unfortunately, it is hard to tell that it’s not real.  Here’s some information to help you decide.  

Who doesn’t like discounts? It’s common practice to jump on Google to look for coupons and savings on services from haircuts to oil changes. But you might want to think twice about using a coupon code the next time you see one. You might be subjecting yourself to scamming practices. 

How Do Coupon Scams Work?

As much as saving money is fun, coupon scams are a real issue. These scams work by releasing fake coupons in exchange for your contact information and in turn, spam your contact information or sell it to third parties. The coupons aren’t real, and you’re now at risk of your contact information being used in malicious ways. What’s worse is you might expose your computer to harmful viruses. 

Spamming isn’t usually an issue until you receive a malware-laced email and are further compromised, but it can be a definite nuisance, and cause issues with your email account. The incessant calling may become an issue too. 

How Do I Know What’s Fake And What’s Not?

Copying a business logo is straightforward and it’s easy to make a coupon look real. Here warning signs to look out for:

  • Look for expiration dates and cross-reference them with the store or service’s website. Feel free to give them a call too to make sure it’s a real coupon!
  • Watch out for high-value offers. 50% coupons might be legit, but chances are they’re not. Check with the service provider and see if it’s real. 
  • Don’t pay for coupons. Coupons are free. Anyone offering them for a cost should be considered suspect. 
  • Be on the lookout for sites that offer an online coupon code, but then require you to fill out a form with personal information. Personal information shouldn’t be required to get a coupon. 
  • Check to see if the coupon links go back to the actual website of the service you’re looking for. 
  • Also, check to make sure the name is a complete match of the real business. Fake coupons will often have a misspelling or an issue with color.  

Check your coupons against this list. While the list might not have every fake on there, it’s worth checking just in case!

The Risk Of Malware And Computer Viruses

Another common feature of scammy coupon sites is the risk of serious malware and computer viruses turning up. Links may not be valid, or secure and it’s easy to end up with a form or download button that can lead to further issues. Double-check the site to make sure it’s legit and don’t click suspect links if you can help it. A quick Google search about the site you’re attempting to use may help avoid a computer virus and save you money at the Geek Squad. 

Spam calls are no fun and can lead to a disruption of your life. Be sure to double-check every coupon you want to use and when in doubt, reach out to the vendor and see if they use the coupon site you’re looking at. It’s better to be safe than sorry and save your contact information from resale. 

If you have any questions or concerns about an online offer, it is best to contact the business directly.