Beware online coupon scamsPosted By : Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on December 4, 2009
I’m getting e-mail offers for coupons on items that I want, but is it safe to pay a site for online coupons?
This question was answered on December 4, 2009. Much of the information contained herein may have changed since posting.
It’s no surprise in a down economy that the use of coupons is on the increase Estimates are that over 1.5 billion coupons will be redeemed this year which is up almost 25% over last year.
By design, coupons are intended to be acquired and redeemed by the consumer and any resale of a coupon is typically a violation of the manufacturer’s policies.
Lot’s of scams have risen to reflect the popularity of coupons both in the physical world and online including those that claim that you can make ‘big money’ selling and clipping coupons.
Here are some easy to spot ‘red flags’ for questionable coupon offers:
Any site that asks you to pay for a coupon should immediately be questioned (and avoided), since that would violate the manufacturer’s policy for how their coupons are distributed and acquired Most legitimate coupons can be acquired for free via the official methods chosen for distribution by the manufacturer (newspapers, partner websites, etc.).
Any site that is suffering from ‘link rot’ should also be avoided Link rot is when a link no longer works This is an indication of a site that has not been maintained and therefore is likely to have old or invalid offers.
Any site that requires you to provide lots of personal information such as your name, address, phone number and e-mail address in order to access coupons is likely in the business of remarketing your info Most legitimate coupon offering sites don’t require you to provide anything in order to access the coupons or coupon codes In some cases, you can opt-in with just your e-mail address to receive updates or new coupons in the future.
Look for expiration dates and the usual legal jargon Coupons that have neither are likely modified or forgeries (and also look for bar codes on printable coupons for large retailers).
A good way to see if a coupon website is reputable is to see how popular it is with other Internet users A great place to checkup on any website is Alexa.com.
By going to the ‘Site Info’ tab at the top, you can input the web address of any site you would like to learn more about and get some really helpful info very quickly
The first thing to look at is the ‘Traffic Rank’, which is a relative number to all the websites that Alexa ranks in its database The lower the number, the more popular the site
Another good way to see if a site has been validated by others is by the number of sites that Alexa shows are linking in to it The higher this number, the more others around the Internet are referring to it.
The last quick check should be to the ‘Online Since’ date (older dates don’t mean much since sites can be repurposed, but very new sites should be considered more risky.) None of these items alone is any indication of legitimacy, but the combination in comparison to other similar sites should give you a pretty good indication.
If you are looking up a specific site, a great way to learn about other related sites is to click on the ‘Related Links’ tab to see a list of sites with similar content and their respective rankings.
Based on those elements, here are a couple of the higher ranking coupon sites:
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Posted by Ken Colburn of Data Doctors on December 4, 2009