Scammers target your search for coupons, discounts

You’ve heard it before: If it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Still, many of your friends are falling for an old scam on Facebook that can do some serious damage to your computer and your bank
account.

If you haven’t seen the post on your Facebook news feed, you might see it soon. In the last couple of days two of my friends shared it to all of their friends. A free $70 gift card to Kohl’s. It looks like the real thing — the branded logo, a Kohl’s copyright notice and a Kohl’s.com web address — but it’s fake.

To demonstrate how this scam works, I’m going to go through with it, careful to share it only to me so none of my friends are subjected to the scam.

Here’s what happens if you click: You’re asked three simple questions, have you shopped at Kohls, ever been disappointed, are you over the age of 16. Easy peasy right? After clicking the links you’re instructed to share the post and click ‘like’ to get your Kohl’s coupon. When you do, you’ll see you’re not ‘liking’ Kohl’s, you’re being re-directed to another website, then another website, then to another called the National Consumer Center with another survey. Take that one, and you get a “congratulations!” and it asks for your email address.

You then must agree to accept daily emails and then another survey, and another before getting your prize. After you’re directed to sign up for a bunch of garbage, it wants you to do one more thing: install an ‘extension’ or program on your computer. You never — and I mean never — should give permission to a website like this to install something on your computer. This is where I stopped and ran an anti-malware program. It found 21 things that do not belong on my computer and that could do some nasty things to it.

How can you tell a free offer is a scam? If it sounds to good to be true, like a free gift card. If it asks you to share it. Especially if the Facebook link takes you to an outside website. This particular scam has been circulating on Facebook for the past three years. It disappears for a little while before someone shares it again and dupes their friends who make it go viral once again.

So just say no to these scams that go viral. Even your wisest friends can easily fall for them and report the posts to Facebook.

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