Beware of Online Coupon Scams

Dec 03, 2011 Comments Off by

Sadly, the Dark Side of the Internet continues to flourish. If you use online coupon Deals sites, here is a new risk you need to avoid. More than ever, we need to be on guard.

In a timely article today, Patrick Stafford of Smart wrote about becoming more aware of 12 Digital Scams in the lead up to Christmas. You can read the full article here.

One of the Digital Scams was about Online Coupon scams, and I made some comments under Patrick’s article to provide some tips about avoiding these scams.

These scams are real and they are breeding. It’s something you may want to know about – and pass on to your family and friends.

With the growth of real Deals sites such as Groupon, Spreets, AlltheDeals, OurDeals, Deals, Catch of the Day, Scoopon, etc etc etc, many people don’t remember what Deals sites they have legitimately signed up for and are getting emails and messages from all sorts of businesses. Some will be real and some will be seriously dodgey.

It’s too easy to blindly accept offers of great deals, especially when your warning antenna are not working properly. As an example, my wife Jane is a great receiver of these daily deals and she’s bought all sorts of things. Some genuine offers are in the ‘too good to be true” category, but they are true.

In the past, these would have raised our mental “Scammer Warning’. But not now. Getting something valued at $799 for just $89 sounds like scammy crap to me, but it can be true. The whole idea of Price and Value is changing.

Distorting our sense of price and value also distorts our warning mechanisms. This works incredibly well for scammers. If a scammer provides a ‘too good to be true’ deal in the guise of a deals site, it’s tempting to think “Great, let’s buy it.”

Deals sites are totally open to abuse. Especially if the identity the scammer adopts is of a Deals site for which the recipient actually has signed up for membership.

Some tips to avoid being caught out:

  • Look for SSL certificates and who owns them.
  • Look for bad spelling, bad grammar and other bad sentence construction.
  • Look at the actual details of a URL link before you click on it. Check the domain being used and make sure it is the real legitimate domain of the real deals site and not dodgey impersonator.
  • If you do know the name of the business being presented as being behind the deal, call them up and verify that the deal is legitimate.

What other tips do you suggest? Have you been caught?

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