(WFXR) — With a lot of people spending more time plugged in to social media amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the Better Business Bureau (BBB) warns consumers to keep an eye out for scammers.

According to the BBB, with major occasions such as graduations, weddings, and Father’s Day approaching, seeing an increase in coupons for deals at top retailers is rather common. However, scammers are also using social networks — especially Facebook — to offer counterfeit coupons that may serve to generate extra website hits, steal identities, or download malware onto devices.

The BBB says some of the most frequently distributed fake coupons recently are for Bath & Body Works, Costco, Aldis, Starbucks, and Trader Joe’s. Officials say these coupons often offer cards or coupons for $100+ free merchandise, especially if you share the link on social media.

However, these links often take customers to a third-party website that will ask for their information in exchange for access to the coupon or voucher. Unfortunately, by doing so, not only do customers never receive the coupon/voucher, but they also end up with viruses or malware downloaded on their devices and their personal information in the hands of an unknown individual.

The BBB offers consumers the following tips for identifying fake coupons or vouchers:

  • Be skeptical: The better the deal looks, the more likely it’s fake. It is easy for scammers to steal logos and images of established businesses to create counterfeit coupons.
  • Check directly with the source: To verify the legitimacy of an offer, visit the company’s website to look for the coupon or directly contact the company.
  • Look at the expiration date: Most coupons have one. The lack of one is an indication that the coupon may be phony. Remember, coupons for free items usually expire quicker than others.
  • Verify the source: If a coupon comes to you in an email, hover your mouse over the link (without clicking) and the URL destination address should appear. If that address looks like a random assortment of number and letters, do not click on it.
  • Check to see if the website is secure: There should be an “s” after “http” in the URL to indicate it’s a secure site. No “s” may mean it’s a phishing attempt to get your information or to install malware on your computer.
  • Do a web search: Searching by the offer, business name, and the word “scam” can often bring up information showing which offers are fake.
  • Don’t share your personal information: Legitimate businesses do not ask for private information — such as credit card numbers or bank accounts for coupons or giveaways — and any promotional offer that asks for personal information is almost always a scam.

If you have been the victim of a scam, you can visit the BBB scam tracker.

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