Coupons can be a great way to save you some money on products or services, but how do you know if one is legitimate or not? Apparently, it’s not as easy as it seems.
We’ve been hearing that coupon scams are starting to gain popularity in the United States and the UK and have resulted in losses of millions of dollars from both consumers and businesses alike, according to the Coupon Information Corporation (CIC). So, to keep British Columbians in-the-know we have some tips and tricks to stay savvy to these bogus coupons.
So, what are these coupon scams?
These fake coupon scams come in variety of formats. One that we’ve been hearing about on Facebook will advertise $50.00 or $100.00 off a purchase from a popular store if you fill out a survey. This one in particular is a phishing scam trying to get you to disclose personal information and may lead to identity theft. Some will ask for a small fee in order to receive a large coupon amount in the mail and then fraudulent charges will show up on your credit card statement. Here are some ways you can steer clear of these coupon scams:
Contact the business
Getting in touch with the business directly is the best way to determine the legitimacy of the coupon.
If you’re still not sure, check out known coupon scams online
If you can’t get a hold of the business for some reason the Coupon Information Corporation (CIC) regularly updates their list of known coupon scams. This way you can actually enter the company name and see if they are aware of any scams for that brand/business. It’s my understanding that this is an American site, but it still may prove to be useful for international brands.
Be suspicious of coupons that are offering large discounts and remember that often when something seems too good to be true, it probably is.
Safeguard your personal information
Be very careful who you give your personal information to. If you’re unsure about the legitimacy of a business, do not disclose any information to them. This is a good rule to follow in general and will serve you well in the future.
Report these scams to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre so that they are aware of it.
While Consumer Protection BC doesn’t have any authority over coupon scams, we feel it’s important to share this information to inform consumers. If you think you may have been a victim of identity theft through a coupon scam, make sure you report it to the police. You may also want to report it to the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre. Visit the Government of Canada page, Identity 101, for more information on what to do if you encounter identity theft.