Claim: Publix is giving away $100 grocery coupons to Facebook users.
Origins: In July 2015, Facebook users began seeing posts advertising a “Get $100 in Free Groceries when you spend $120 or more” coupon offer for the Publix supermarket chain. These posts were the latest iteration of the common “free coupon” or “free gift card” scams that frequently plague social media. On 12 July 2015 Publix took to Facebook to warn customers that these coupon offers are not an authorized promotion and advise them not to visit sites promoting them:
There is a fraudulent Publix coupon circulating on social media that states “$100 off your purchase of $120 or more”. This is not supported by Publix and this coupon is not valid at any of our locations. We recommend not participating in the promotion or providing your personal information. Thank you for your patience as we investigate this situation.
This coupon is a form of survey scam that typically instructs shoppers to follow “three simple steps” in order to get a free gift card. Once the steps are completed, however, users are not greeted with a coupon code. Instead, they were asked to fill out a brief survey and provide personal information such as home address, telephone number, e-mail address, and date of birth. Users were also required to sign up for credit cards or enroll in subscription programs in order to obtain their “free” gift cards.
These fraudulent surveys are quite popular on Facebook, and if you frequently use that social network, there’s a good chance that you’ll run into one of these survey scams again. A July 2014 article from the Better Business Bureau lists key factors for identifying fraudulent Facebook posts:
Don’t believe what you see. It’s easy to steal the colors, logos and header of an established organization. Scammers can also make links look like they lead to legitimate websites and emails appear to come from a different sender.
When in doubt, do a quick web search. If the survey is a scam, you may find alerts or complaints from other consumers. The organization’s real website may have further information.
Watch out for a reward that’s too good to be true. If the survey is real, you may be entered in a drawing to win a gift card or receive a small discount off your next purchase. Few businesses can afford to give away $50 gift cards for completing a few questions.
Patterson, Emily. “Customer Survey Scam Lures Victims with Gift Card.” Better Business Bureau. 4 July 2014.