Sunday, October 12, 2008

More on Coupons

Like everything else on the Internet, you have to be careful when going to sites that require a download or personal information. Yep, bad guys/gals even infiltrate a harmless activity like couponing! To find and use on-line coupons safely and easily, try out these sites. These sites also have information and links to blogs or chatrooms where coupon aficionados discuss deals they have located. You don't need to register to use these sites, but might have to if you want to join any of the discussion groups. These are good sites:
Coupon Mom
Flamingo World
Hot Coupon World
Tech Bargains

Couponing is not just for grocery store buying either! You can find coupons for all kinds of purchases. Not all manufacturers offer coupons on their websites, but many do. Just go to the companies website and look for a tab that says "deals", "bargains", "promotions", "coupons"... you get the idea! Most will require registration.

There are three Internet coupon types. On-line coupons aren't always the print and clip type.
1. Coupon codes is an alphanumeric code that can be used to obtain a discount. Typically, you can only use the code for online purchases and you will be prompted to enter the code at some point, usually the end, of the checkout process.

2. Link promotion is another popular online experience! (I had these on my website for a few months, but have taken them down.) You click the link and it takes you directly to the page in the site where you can make the purchase at the discounted price. NOTE: Confirm that the link promotion has taken you to the actual retailer's site, not a copycat, before entering your credit card number. The URL should contain "https" not just "http" (the "s" means the site is secure). Make sure the site includes functional links to customer service pages, such as return policy and shipping charge explanations.
Look for a VeriSign or BBBOnline (Better Business Bureau) seal on the site. Clicking on these seals should bring you to these organizations' Web sites. If it doesn't, don't proceed with the transaction.

3. Printable Coupons are very popular. These can be printed and redeemed in stores. To print the coupons, you will most likely have to download some software to allow you to do the printing. You take the chance that along with the coupon printer download, you may download spyware. This spyware might monitor where you go on the Internet and report this information back to the coupon Web site or anyone who has paid the site for this data. That robs you of your on-line privacy and slows your computer slightly. Spyware even can make you vulnerable to identity theft, though this is unlikely with major coupon Web sites. Be sure you have good Spyware detection on your computer. (I use Spyware Doctor but there are free spyware monitors out there that you can download).

Even if you are not asked to download software to obtain your coupon, you might be asked to provide an E-mail address. Set up a free email through Yahoo or Gmail and use that account if you need to provide an email to get a coupon via email. That way your main account won't get filled up with spam messages.

And, finally, a couple things to remember when checking out sites for Internet coupons. If their coupons don't have a bar code on them... they are bogus. Look at the website. If it looks amateurish or if it's small scale, it's probably bogus. Stick to the large scale sites (like those mentioned above) and to the manufacturers websites.

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