If you're a couponer on social media, you've probably noticed a ton of new spam links cropping up in your various Facebook coupon groups.
Unscrupulous hackers are trying to gain access to your personal Facebook profile, by creating eye-catching 'deals' promising crazy freebies -- like a entire free carton of Marlboro cigarettes as seen in the example above.
When you click on the link, you will spam that link (or sometimes reeeeeeally gross porn) to Every. Single. Group. you're in on Facebook.
And if you don't realize you've been hacked and change your Facebook password, you may be giving hackers access to everything you've shared in your Facebook profile -- and depending on what you've added to your page, that could include identifying personal information, pictures of your kids, and a whole lot more you probably don't want random strangers to have access to.
So how you can you use Facebook to hunt great deals without falling for coupon spam? Here are a couple of tips to use when you're trying to determine whether a bargain is really too good to be true, or if it really is just
5 Quick Tips To Avoiding Facebook Coupon Spam
- The photo or link is promising a bulk freebie. Companies do give away free SAMPLES all the time, but be realistic -- if you see a photo promising a free carton of cigarettes (like above), a free case of Jack Daniels, a free super pack of Huggies, or a free iPhone, it's probably spam.
- There are obvious misspellings in the post. In the example above, the post has several grammatical errors -- there's no "a" between "away" and "free", it should be "cigarettes", not "Cigarette", and the word anniversary is misspelled. I am not saying spelling and grammar errors don't occur with legit bloggers -- but when you see so many in a single post, it's a clue that the offer may be a fake.
- The actual URL looks weird, or it changes when you hover over it. Here's an example of a URL I would never click on below. All those dashes plus the odd assortment of letters at the end of the link just SCREAM spam.
- The link promises a ridiculously high coupon value. Straight up, there is no such thing as a "$100 grocery coupon." Also, notice that this link is using a URL shortener. While legitimate bloggers will sometimes use link shorteners, the combination of the shortener plus the vague but exciting promise of big discounts is a dead giveaway of spam.
- The photo looks stretched or physically altered in some way. See how this photo looks a little wider than it should -- to the point where the right-hand side of the 'coupon' is cut off? Also, again, Party City is never going to give folks $150 off their purchases, and you can again see a weirdo link at the bottom of the photo.
So how you can tell when deals are actually deals? Watch for these indications that an offer is real:
- It's posted by a blogger you recognize and trust.
- The link or photo comes with details about timelines and actual discounts.
- The coupon promoted is for a reasonable value.
Here's a good example of a legitimate deal post from earlier this week on Facebook (and before you ask, this is a dead deal, so the coupon being promoted is no longer available to print):
Here, you can see the blogger a) is sharing an exciting but reasonably-valued coupon, b) tells you which site the coupon was at, and which size products the coupon could be used on, and c) shares a simple, easy-to-understand URL on the bottom left-hand side of the photo.
So you can safely click away on things like this!
If you find something that you just aren't sure about, tag the admin of that Facebook group to alert them to the presence of a questionable link.
Trust me, most admins of active groups have a sixth sense for spam, and can help you determine what's real and what's not.
What other questions do you have about coupon spam? Let me know in the comments below!