Discount coupons can end up a phishing trap

Sunil Pradhan
Thursday, 21 June 2018

Cyber expert Anil Raj said that discount coupons are promotional strategies and people are bombarded with it every now and then which is causing a problem for the users.

Pune: “Get 30% instant discount on domestic flights up to Rs 500 and for round trip up to 400.” “Get up to Rs 30,000 instant discount on international flights.” “Use code ‘ABC’ to get discount up to 50 per cent.”

These are some discount offers provided to a customer by companies while he is trying to book a flight or a hotel. Following the digital boom, customers have many options and use the online mode to book a hotel or a flight, customers often feel frustrated while trying to use the promotional codes and discount coupons. Experts claim that such discount coupons are a part of marketing strategy and come with a catch.

Cyber expert Chirayu Mahajan of ANA Cyber Forensic spoke about a frustrating experience when he tried booking a hotel. “I tried to use a code to get discount and after taking all my credentials, there was a message that the code had expired,” added Mahajan. 

Speaking about the problems faced while booking flights and hotels, Mahajan said that scamsters can easily lay a trap to commit a cybercrime if people continue to use discount coupons. “In some cases, a customer is trying to book a hotel and during payment, the session expires. In such case, the company can try to phish all your bank and personal details and so this can be a case of data phishing. Similarly, many messages of companies offering discounts are viral on social media which are fake messages but again this can be an act of data phishing or an advertisement strategy,” added Mahajan.

Ankush Dubey, a software engineer spoke about his experience while booking a flight. “I had planned a trip to Delhi from Pune and after investing over an hour to book a ticket from different websites, I could hardly find any difference in the cost of the ticket and companies charge you hidden cost which is not reflected on the home page. After filling all the details, you come to know that your discounts are of no use which leaves you frustrated. However, I have many times availed 50 per cent discounts while booking hotels online but one must compare the facilities offered by the hotel with the amount you are paying,” he added.

Cyber expert Anil Raj of Cybervault Security Solutions Private Limited said that discount coupons are promotional strategies and people are bombarded with it every now and then which is causing a problem for the users. “When a customer even does a basic search, his credentials are captured by the website and the browser keeps reflecting about the search to the consumer. Once the consumer’s credentials are captured, companies then bombard the user with discount coupons and promotional codes so that the consumer proceeds with the booking. Indeed, consumers are frustrated by all such things,” he added.

Dos and Don’ts
 Use trusted websites while booking hotels and flights.
 Use advertisement blocking techniques.
 Read all details carefully before booking hotels and flights.
 Never share personal banking details and one time password.

With the rise in the number of e-commerce websites, several companies are trying to acquire customers using various discount coupons. However, experts claim that these are just marketing strategies and users are hardly benefited. Sakal Times in a three-part series explores various ways e-commerce websites are trying to target consumers.


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