In September 2018, Facebook users began seeing posts advertising a “Get $75 off any purchase of $80 or more” coupon offer for the Publix supermarket chain:
Later in July 2019, an $80 version also made the rounds:
These posts were the latest iterations of the common “free coupon” or “free gift card” scams that frequently plague social media.
Publix has previously taken to social media to warn customers that these coupon offers are not authorized promotions and to advise customers not to visit sites promoting them:
These fake coupon offers are 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 survey and provide personal information such as home address, telephone number, e-mail address, and date of birth. Users are 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. If you frequently use Facebook, there is a good chance that you’ll run into one of these survey scams again. A July 2014 article from the Better Business Bureau listed 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.