Cybercriminals are always looking for a way to prey on unsuspecting Facebook users, and the holiday season provides an abundance of opportunity. One of the most common holiday scams involves fake coupons that target the customers of major chains including Target, Aldi, Kohl’s, ShopRite and more.
According to retail expert Cindy Livesey, these scams often appear as a three-step process. First, users are encouraged to like the offer on Facebook. Next, they’re prompted to share it with their friends. Finally, and most suspiciously of all, users are asked to fill out a survey and provide their personal information so they can receive the “coupon.” And as USA Today points out, even if you become suspicious by the time you reach the survey, you’ve already liked and shared the scam to all of your friends, thus spreading it further.
While these coupons may seem like a small-time con, they add up to a huge legal effort for Facebook, which has dedicated teams seeking to block them.
“We’ve also obtained nearly $2 billion in legal judgments against spammers to keep them off our platform,” said Melanie Ensign, a Facebook spokeswoman.
Thankfully, there are several easy and commonsense tips to avoid these fake deals. First, Google any coupons you see posted on social media or go directly to the retailer’s website to ensure it’s real. If you can’t find corroborating evidence, than the one on Facebook is likely a fake. Second, and most importantly, don’t click any suspicious-seeming links in the first place, and if you do, definitely don’t share any personal information.