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Free pizza coupon may leave a bad taste in your mouth

Created date

December 22nd, 2014

Who doesn’t like coupons—especially ones good for free pizza from Pizza Hut? Many people are receiving emails from what looks like Pizza Hut. The message says that in honor of the chain’s 55th anniversary, they are giving out online coupons that can be redeemed for a free pan pizza. Beware! Before you click on a link that supposedly takes you to the promised coupon, think twice.

More likely than not, clicking on the link won’t get you free pizza, but it will get you malware—“malicious software” that includes viruses and spyware that get installed on your computer, phone, or mobile device without your consent. Malware is used by criminals to steal your identity, send spam, or commit fraud. 

Scammers have become quite talented at mimicking the look of legitimate business emails. They artfully cut and paste real logos and color schemes so their fake email looks as good as a real one. While the email may appear to come from Pizza Hut or Wells Fargo or another well-recognized company, what you are seeing is actually a scammer in disguise. 

Follow the clues

Fortunately, there are a few clues to look for to help figure out if an email is from a scammer.

1. Did the email go right into your junk folder? If so, keep it there; odds are good that it’s a scam. 

2. Does the sender’s email address seem consistent with the company it’s supposedly from? For example, does it end in if it’s from Pizza Hut? Big national companies have recognizable email addresses.

3. When you hover your cursor over the coupon link, the address of the link should pop up. If it’s real, the address should include 

4. Visit the company’s actual website by hand-typing in the URL address (not by hitting the link). Are they promoting what is promised in the email? If not, put the email in the trash.

5. Do you regularly receive email alerts from that company or did it seem to arrive out of the blue? 

If there is any doubt, don’t click the link. Delete the email. Free pizza is great, but the trouble and expense of eliminating malware from your computer will definitely make you lose your appetite. 

For more information about scams and how to protect yourself from unscrupulous criminals, visit the Federal Trade Commission’s new website “Pass it on” at consumer.ftc.g....