Scam of the day – December 4, 2013 – Online coupon scams

Cyber Monday was. by some accounts, the biggest day of online shopping in history as many of us find the convenience and comfort of online shopping very attractive.  Whether you shop at a brick and mortar store or an online retailer, legitimate coupons can save you a great deal of money.  Consequently many people are always on the lookout for helpful coupons to reduce their shopping costs.  Unfortunately, scam artists and identity thieves are only too aware of how much we like our online coupons and have tied phony coupons to many scams.  One of the scams involves an email that you receive that appears to come from a legitimate retailer with a link for you to click on to access a coupon that you can use either in online shopping or shopping at a store.  The problem is that sometimes these emails which appear to be from the real store have malware attached to the phony coupon so when you click on the link to download it, you are actually unwittingly downloading a keystroke logging malware program that will steal all of your personal information from your computer including credit card information and banking information.  They will then use that information to make you a victim of identity theft.

TIPS

As always, if the coupon looks too good to be true, it usually is and you should immediately be skeptical.  You should also be skeptical if the email requires you to provide personal information that can be used to make you a victim of identity theft.  Finally, the sad truth is that it is so easy to counterfeit an email to make it look like it is from the legitimate company that you cannot trust any email that you receive with a link until you have confirmed that the email is legitimate.  In the case of emails with coupons, the easiest way to deal with this dilemma is to merely go to the real website of the real company (and not through a link provided in the email) and look for the coupon.  Any coupons that you would legitimately receive in an email will also be available at the company’s official website.  Also, you can further checkout the coupon’s validity by going to the website of the Coupon Information Corporation, a non-profit association of manufacturers that has a section of their website devoted to notifications of counterfeit coupons.  Go to their website at http://www.couponinformationcenter.com/ and merely click on the section entitled “Counterfeit Notifications” to see the latest list of phony coupons.  Merely because your coupon does not appear there does not insure that the coupon is not a phony, but if it does appear, you can be pretty confident that the coupon you received is indeed a scam.