Facebook users beware! An old scam is back and causing people some serious trouble.
In addition to all the other Facebook scams going around, you’ll want to know about the Facebook coupons taking up your News Feed — because they are fake.
The coupons look real, and the deals look great. But unfortunately, like so many other scams, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.
What the scam looks like
In order to claim the coupon deal, a Facebook user is instructed to go through a series of steps.
First, share the deal with all your friends. Second, ‘like’ the page associated with the ‘deal.’ And third, fill out a survey with various questions, and enter your email address so they can ‘send you your coupons.’ The trouble is, you could be giving your personal information out to crooks, and advising your friends to do the same!
Read more: Warning: 3 Facebook scams you want to avoid
Recent fake coupons spotted on Facebook
Not only are retail brands susceptible to this scam, but supermarkets and travel companies are also popular choices for fraudsters. Below are some recent fake coupons that went viral:
- Publix: A fake coupon for Publix claimed you could receive $100 off your grocery bill of $120 or more.
- Kroger: A phony $250 Kroger gift card giveaway that claimed if you shared the gift card you would be entered to win a $250 Kroger gift card.
- Kohl’s: A 50% off coupon circulated around Thanksgiving saying if you shared the coupon you would receive 50% of your purchase.
Fake coupon crooks often create coupons for big chains like Aldi, Kohl’s, Target and ShopRite using their logo and may include pictures of items available at the real stores. In addition, they also target individual products like Coca-Cola soft drinks or Kellogg Eggos.
Kroger’s director of media relations, Keith Dailey, said, ‘When we see scams like this, we let customers know that the offer is not affiliated with or supported by the Kroger Co.’ He also recommended not engaging with the offer or giving away any personal information. Kroger contacts Facebook or the affected social site immediately once they are made aware of a fake offer.
The Coupon Information Center, an industry group that fights coupon fraud, cautions consumers not to download Internet coupons from unknown sources, or sources you can’t confirm. On the group’s website, they give this advice: ‘If a friend e-mails you coupons, especially high-value or free product coupons, the coupons are most likely counterfeit.’
More often than not, these coupon scams only occur for short periods of time because Facebook works hard to block them. ‘We’ve also obtained nearly $2 billion in legal judgments against spammers to keep them off our platform,’ said Melanie Ensign, a Facebook spokeswoman.
If you see a deal on Facebook that looks legit, make sure to take these steps before you share:
Make sure the deal is real
- Check the retailer’s official Facebook page to see if the same coupon appears there. (An official page has a blue circle next to their brand name.)
- Check the retailer’s website to see if they are offering the same deal.
What to do if you find a fake deal
If you find that the deal is fake, be sure to follow these steps!
- Let the person know who posted it so they can remove it from their account.
- Contact the retailer whose name is on the deal with a link to the actual post so that the retailer can get a hold of Facebook and have the fake deal removed. (To get the link, click on the graphic to open it, then copy the URL at the top of your browser.)
- You might even want to contact the Coupon Information Center, since they keep tabs on fake deals and let other people know about them.
Though social sites are being vigilant about scammers, some might fall through the cracks. Be sure to check a deal’s authenticity before re-posting, and never give out your personal information to any person or site you do not know or can’t confirm!