RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – We’re smack in the middle of gift giving season with proms, graduations and — of course — Mother’s Day.
Buying all those gifts can put a strain on your wallet, so it’s natural you might want to look for some deals to stretch your dollar.
But there are some deals that should make buyers beware.
Internet coupons from social media sites look like they offer huge discounts.
The latest to hit the net are coupons offering $75 off at Bed, Bath & Beyond or $50 Bucks off at Lowe’s or at Home Depot.
They look legit, but there are clues to indicate they are fakes.
First clue: If someone shares a coupon with you on social media – it’s probably going to be fake. That’s not how retailers distribute offers.
Second clue: The coupon won’t download. It takes you to another site.
If you click on the coupon, you’re going to get scammed because the coupons are being used to find ways to steal your personal information.
Cyber security experts say crooks are after specific things.
“Once you have somebody’s full information like their name, their address, a birthday or credit card information you can do a ton of damage to somebody,” says Scott N. Schober, president of Berkeley Varitronics Systems.
Schober says the fake coupon will often take you go to a link with what appears to be an innocuous survey.
Once you answer the first question on that so called survey, you’re hit with pop-ups asking for personal information like an email address or a request to download a program.
Not only are the scammers stealing info with this clickbait, but they’re also infecting your computer with malware.
How do you protect yourself?
Check out the site’s URL. If it’s a clone of a legitimate retailer, it won’t say “.com” it’ll say something like “.us.”
The only places you should trust for online coupons are if they are posted on a retailer’s official Facebook or web page.
The coupon conundrum can very confusing. So how can you figure out which coupons are fake?
One resource is the Coupon Information Corporation.
They try and list as many fakes as they can find and show you examples them on line.
They’re a nonprofit that works with legitimate retailers and businesses to ferret out fake coupons and show you what they look like.
Email CBS North Carolina’s Steve Sbraccia if you have a consumer issue.