Daily discounts, competitions and special offers – a raw deal?
The doom and gloom of financial hardship. It’s when you have to cut back on luxuries such as romantic getaways and exotic holidays. But is it? The saviour of the sordid economy slump – the best deals, offers and competitions conveniently delivered to you, offering unbeatable discounts.
Delivered to your inbox, letter box and even your phone, there has been a boom in companies offering group buying discounts, competitions and voucher codes. Offering a range of products, they have been especially successful within the travel industry, as this is one of the sectors that people are so keen to get a good deal from.
Groupon, Scoopon, Spreets – just to name a few are well established discount companies that have paved the way for the discount craze. Although, following on from their success, numerous other deal sites have begun sprouting up offering discounts on tours and trips. Full holiday getaways, spa weekends, tours, luxurious hotels and many other deals are presented with large discounts if bought within the time period given.
It’s no wonder that scammers have seen the potential for trying to tap into this market that offers rock bottom discounts. Frugal travellers will often be tempted to save money on their trip – so deals that turn up unexpectedly are often, at first site, a welcome present. Pressured by a countdown timer, beautiful images of the destination and hefty discounts, consumers are only one click away from a bargain getaway. All they need to do is hand over their credit card details for an on-the-spot purchase of a voucher – a technique that the impulse buyer finds hard to resist.
Unfortunately though, one of the latest tricks intruding its way into the inboxes of bargain hunters and savvy shoppers, is fraudsters claiming pseudo deals. Crafting emails that can look identical to legitimate sites is an easy job for the right person. The most recent scams have included emails using the Groupon logo and colour scheme, claiming to be referrals from friends recommending great deals. When the recipient clicks through the link however, it turns out to be nothing but spyware and viruses.
The deals can catch people out if they’re lured by a cheap luxurious trip with the only condition being is that they have to book on the day, before the offer expires. However, they’re not just adopting a copy-cat style, there are also companies setting themselves up as group buying discount sites where people can enter in their details and download bogus discount vouchers.
Fake coupons are becoming widely available on the internet for many consumers seeking discounts on holidays, accommodation and leisure attractions. With so many sites, it’s becoming increasingly difficult to muddle through to multitude of offerings and know which are legitimate.
It’s not just discounts that are turning up though. There are also competitions and ‘free’ prizes that are still doing the rounds. Known as being one of the oldest tricks in the books, there are fraudulent companies that promise to-good-to-be true travel deals, winning free trips and travel club memberships, allegedly worth a lot of money.
These sorts of offers used to come from postal letters, telephone deals and text messages, but now they are coming under the guise of internet companies. Such scams are becoming more and more sophisticated, mimicking reputable sites and using their trustworthy name to phish for information.
There have even been cases in Australia, where victims received calls from representatives claiming to be from a popular television travel program, and offer anything from cheap travel packages to luxury five-star resorts that yield nothing but a scam. Fake ‘winning’ scratch cards have also arrived through peoples’ letter boxes, backed by glossy brochures and websites to support a professional image.
People have also received holiday deals, but the ‘prize’ cannot be collected unless an ‘administrative’ fee is paid. The companies usually ask for payments to be made to PO boxes, or by using cash wiring money transfer services such as Western Union or Money Gram. Some people have spent a lot of money trying to claim their prize, but have been unsuccessful in securing a departure date. Following on, when the consumer tries to cancel the booking, the trail dries up and goes cold.
If you are going to be using such sites to seek the best deals, experts warn that to reduce the risk of falling victim to a scam you should:
- Verify the reliability of travel related businesses that claim to offer discount services by obtaining details in writing
- Search the companies on a search engine first. Make sure you only use reputable sites
- Always check the sender of the email – and make sure it’s the deal site you signed up to
- Don’t hand over any money to claim a ‘prize’, if it sounds too good to be true – then it probably is
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