Super-savers on Facebook are stumbling upon coupon crack, an offer so fabulous it’s nearly impossible to resist.
" is giving everyone FREE $75 OFF Gift Coupon to celebrate 100 years of success!" goes the phony post. The coupon says it‘s valid until Sept. 30, 2018. The website listed on the post is WAITROSE-UK.WIN.
It‘s a scam, says Publix. Do not click the link or share it.
The offer looks realistic and is spreading like wildfire on the social network, being shared by unsuspecting consumers. Users who click on the offer are taken to an unsecured, phony website with the Publix logo that is not Publix, and are asked to "take our short survey to get a Free $75 Publix Coupon! We only have 232 coupons remaining so hurry up!"
Once users click on the link, the website asks three questions and then urges users to fill out personal information and then share the counterfeit coupon with friends on social media. The link may contain malware or viruses that attack computers to extract sensitive information. If you did fall for it, delete any posts on your Facebook wall and run your antivirus program. Never provide personal information in online surveys. That’s what the scammers are after.
“We have been made aware of a fraudulent coupon that appears to be offered by Publix,” says Nicole Krauss, the chain’s spokeswoman. “We recommend that you do not participate in the promotion or provide your personal information. We are working diligently to investigate this issue.”
Questioning customers have tweeted asking the Lakeland-based grocer if the coupon is legit. Publix‘s response: "Please know this is fake coupon!"
This isn‘t the first bogus offer making the rounds on Facebook, and it won‘t be the last. A and . Other frauds masquerading as legitimate Aldi, Kroger and Kohl‘s coupons have circulated on Facebook, too.
We fall for it because we love our coupons. Manufacturers distribute more than 300 billion coupons annually with an estimated worth of $280 billion, according to the facts for consumers.
Estimates put coupon fraud costs at nearly a half-billion dollars a year.
Protect yourself with these tips, so you don‘t get clipped.
Question it: Do you really think Publix would offer $75-off coupons? It‘s rare to get your hot little hands on $5-off coupons and they are never offered on social media.
Don’t do it: Never provide sensitive personal information such as telephone numbers, birth dates, credit card or Social Security numbers in exchange for an offer.
Study it: Scrutinize offers with big savings. Crooks prey on consumers by promising huge savings through unknown, third-party websites. Come-ons offer free products, high-value gift cards and coupons in exchange for filling out surveys, providing personal information, or both. Print coupons only from websites of trusted brands, not third-party websites. Good sources are , , and , and grocery store websites.
Avoid it: Do not purchase inserts from coupon-clipping services, through Facebook, on Internet auction sites or forums. It‘s likely the inserts were obtained illegally or stolen, or are counterfeit. Coupons are not transferable. Selling them to third parties violates most manufacturer redemption policies, voiding the coupons. It‘s in the fine print. Never pay for grocery-store coupons. Only clip coupons from legitimate sources, such as the newspaper, that offer them for free.
Check it: If you suspect a coupon is phony, do some detective work. Google the coupon with words like "phony" or "fraud" and see what comes up. Check the counterfeit coupon database at . The site is run by the Coupon Information Corp., a nonprofit funded by manufacturers that has exposed nearly a billion dollars in coupon fraud schemes.
Report it: If you‘re a victim, file a scam report with the Better Business Bureau at and with the Florida Attorney General‘s Office at , or call the state‘s fraud hotline at. Make reports to the Federal Trade Commission‘s Consumer Response Center at ,, or to the United States Postal Inspection Service at.
My best advice: Don’t be greedy. Instead, be savvy in pursuit of savings and guard your personal information like it were a pile of gold. To scammers and criminals, it is.
Connect with me: , or email .