Spotting Malicious Coupons Online – 5 Warning Signs to Look Out For

Online shopping safety is more of a science these days but there are some major red flags you can spot by just skimming through the deal. 

These include misspellings, bad color scheme, expiration dates, antivirus warnings, and more. You also need to look for the name of the business to make sure it is legitimate.

But let’s break it down, shall we?

What is Malware and Ransomware?

Malware and ransomware are malicious software designed to compromise computers, networks, and other systems. 

Malware is a general term used to refer to any type of malicious computer program, while ransomware specifically refers to malicious programs designed to encrypt computer files or data and demand a payment in exchange for the decryption key. 

These types of malicious programs can be spread through email attachments, malicious links, or even through the installation of infected software. 

The main goal of malware and ransomware is to gain access to sensitive information or money from unsuspecting victims. So if you’re ever asked to open an email attachment you didn’t expect, be extra careful – it could be a nasty surprise in disguise!

Malware Via Email

A spammer can send a similar shady message to a handful of email addresses in a matter of seconds. 

While coupons and deals are the pixie dust of email marketing, the real trick is to keep a close eye on what is sent your way. 

Using anti-malware software when opening email attachments is good practice 101 when it comes to protecting your computer from online attacks in the coupon world.

Dodgy “Daily Deal” sites

The internet can be a dangerous place, and nowhere is this more true than with so-called “daily deal” sites. 

These sites promise ways to find amazing deals on products that are too good to pass up, but in reality they are just scams designed to trick users into downloading toolbars which actually download malicious software and viruses that then run in the background on your device and steal your information. 

Downloading any kind of toolbar is strongly discouraged, as you can never be sure what other issues it can bring. 

This holds true for coupon toolbars as well. Such applications and related popups are often linked to websites infected with malware or spyware. 

Even if a particular toolbar claims to provide legitimate deals, it still runs in the background without your knowledge, using up system resources and monitoring your browsing activities. 

It is possible that these toolbars can reroute your search results to sites they are promoting and may even attach harmful software or code to the coupons they provide. Removing them from your computer can be difficult as some traces of the toolbar are often left behind in hard-to-find files. 

What Can You Do to Avoid This?

Let Security Software Do it For You

The best way to avoid a malware plague is to install security software. 

This should protect your system from the likes of malware, ransomware, spyware and adware. Malware can be downloaded from websites that snuck into your browser without your knowledge. 

For instance, a malicious pop-up may take over your browser and slow your computer to a crawl.

Look for The Reviews

Check for reviews of a coupon website before using it. Most reputable websites have ratings and comments from customers so you can make sure that you are downloading something safe and secure. 

If there are multiple negative reviews that mention malware or other issues, it’s probably best to avoid the site. 

If you can’t find reviews, do some research to see if it has a good reputation. Look it up on social media and see if it has any presence and engaging followers. 

This should give you enough information to decide whether you should purchase the coupon. 

Be Wary of Suspicious Ads

Pop-ups and suspicious advertisements are often a sign of malware, such as adware or potentially unwanted programs (PUPs). It’s important to be cautious when encountering these types of ads while online shopping and to make sure your computer is protected with up-to-date antivirus software. 

If you see a pop-up or an ad that looks suspicious, it’s best to close it and avoid downloading coupons, clicking on any links or buttons. 

Pay Attention To The Source URL

If you are in the habit of signing up for a myriad of newsletters, emails and social media feeds, it is important to pay attention to the source url. 

The reason being that a malicious website could be lurking just below the surface. You may be able to avoid becoming a victim by scanning the site with a link scanning tool.

Тhe Scan URL is an all-in-one solution, allowing you to verify the security of a link before you commit. A good way to prevent yourself from becoming a victim is to make sure that you never click on links containing a shortened URL. Such links may be hijacked by hackers with ulterior motives. 

Avoid downloading apps or software from unfamiliar sources. Only download apps and software from trusted sources, such as the App Store or Google Play.

Deals that Are too Good

If the deal seems like it’s too good to be true, it probably is. Here are some red flags to look out for when evaluating a deal that seems too good to be true:

  1. Unfamiliar or untrusted source: If you’re not familiar with the company or website offering the deal, be cautious. It’s always a good idea to do some research and make sure the company is legitimate before you make a purchase.
  2. Limited time or quantity: Deals that are only available for a short period of time or are limited in quantity may be too good to be true. Be wary of deals that require you to act quickly or that claim to be available in limited quantities. 

A trick to avoid this is to use a VPN while shopping online – then you can see if a site is artificially manipulating the “quantity in stock” numbers each time you visit them.

  1. Too good to be true prices: If the price of an item seems too low, it could be a sign that the deal is not legitimate. Be sure to compare prices with other retailers to make sure you’re getting a good deal.
  2. Requests for personal information: Be cautious of deals that require you to provide personal information.

If you feel that the offer is too good to be true, then it is likely that it might contain malicious code that could harm your system or identity.

Takeaway

The most important takeaway here is that malicious software can be spread to your device when using a dodgy coupon site. You should always be on the lookout when it comes to online shopping on unfamiliar sites.

By being vigilant about the sites you use and the information you provide, you can make sure that you are staying safe while using coupon sites online.

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