When couponing you have to know what is legit and not. That’s why I’ve spent a lot of time writing all about these things such as what the fine print means on coupons, coupon ids, and even tips spotting fraudulent coupons. Here you can find out Tips for Spotting Fraudulent Coupons.
If you have ever received a coupon in your email for a free item, or maybe you heard about a coupon that you think is too good to be true, you can visit the Coupon Information Center to verify the authenticity of those coupons. The Coupon Information Center (CIC) is a site dedicated to fighting coupon fraud and they work closely with manufacturers as well as retailers to fight coupon misredemption and fraud. They keep a list of coupons that have been identified as fraudulent by the manufacturers and if you are ever in doubt I recommend that you remember this resource and check the list to check the validity of your coupons. Or ask me on My Momma Taught Me. Sometimes the CIC may not be up to date on current fraudulent coupons, as there are many people out there doing this today (so sad, but true). Read an article another couponer wrote about counterfeit baby formula coupons over here.
Above is a PDF image that someone saved to their hard drive in order to share the coupon with the general public. It is NOT a printable link generated by Wegmans. The web address does not match the print on the image and the blue hyper links don’t work. If it was a legitimate coupon from the Wegmans site, those hyper links would work when clicked.
What is Coupon Fraud?
- Coupon Fraud is when someone intentionally uses a coupon for a product that they have NOT purchased, or fails to meet the terms and conditions for redemption, or when coupons are altered/counterfeited. These activities are almost always in violation of Federal, State or local laws. You can get in trouble for this, and people have.
- Coupon fraud costs manufacturers hundreds of millions of dollars every year.
- Coupon fraud also increases costs for all of us and makes it more difficult for honest couponers to legitimately use coupons.
How is Fraud Committed?
- Photocopying Coupons: You are allowed 2 prints per computer. If you take those and copy them that is fraud! Read more about why you cannot copy coupons here.
- Disregarding Manufacturers Stipulations on Coupons: You need to follow brands, flavors, sizes, etc. put on coupons. You cannot use a coupon for Pampers Swaddlers on Pampers Cruisers.
My Tips to Follow
- If you received a coupon in pdf or jpg form that you think it’s too good to be true; it most likely is. Coupons for high value free items that can be printed from your home computer should set off a red flag for you, unless you can verify that the coupon can be found on the manufacturer website, or from a reputable printable coupon source.
- Always be concerned when somebody has more than one free item coupon and has many multiples of it. High Value FREE item coupons are usually mailed directly from the manufacturer to the consumer. They almost always have a watermark or hologram on them to prevent copying and coupon fraud. It is very rare that one person will have many multiples of the same free item coupon, but there are cases like House Party for example. They send out more than one free product coupons for you and friends to try. So there are a few exceptions. (think of extreme couponing- it has been verified that they have used fraudulent coupons on multiple times, that’s what you get for buying them off ebay! I highly recommend Not Buying Free Coupons on Ebay or anywhere else!!)
**READ more about fraudulent coupons being used on Extreme Couponing from a well known coupon source, Jill Cataldo,here and here.
Also Read Why your shopping trips are not like TLC’s shoppers here.
Above is an example of a legit coupon with the hologram and watermark on the coupon. This coupon was mailed directly to the person from the company.
- If a coupon has a long expiration date, that may be a red flag. Most legit manufacturer coupons that are for FREE items do not have very long expiration dates. Many of the coupons that are fake have long expiration dates, over 12 months.
- If you learn that the coupon you were emailed or have is a fraudulent coupon throw it away immediately. Do not try to use it unless you want to risk basically public embarrassment. By the time a coupon has been flagged as fraudulent by the CIC, retailers have been informed that coupon is fraudulent and won’t get reimbursed for it.
- Also, the value of free coupons matters too. Say there is a huggies free coupon for up to 24.00 off. Well I can tell you that is a little odd, because any free coupons that I have received (for completing a promotion) the value has only been for up to 11.99 off. So that right there would be a red flag to me. (not saying impossible, just be leery). Or if there is a high value coupon for say 5.00 off a product that usually never has coupons worth a value over 1.00. That should concern you as well.
- You can get arrested for miss use of coupons. Rather it be using a fraudulent coupon, or making copies of coupons and using them. Never ever photo copy any coupons!! It’s not even okay to copy a printable that you printed and it only printed once. (every printable coupon has unique codes on them. And even special coding to tell where it was printed from!) That is considered fraud, and people DO get arrested for it! It’s “said that people who knowingly use the fake coupons are committing a Class 6 felony and they can be arrested for it.” Example: here
Read Another Article on a coupon bust here.
- Never buy free or “too good to be true” coupons online. You can never be too sure how or where they came from. Better to be safe than sorry in the end!
- Never ever photo copy coupons of any kind! That is fraudulent usage of coupons and it can be tracked back to you resulting in jail time.
Determining if a Coupon is FAKE Overview:
- High Value Coupons you don’t see often, may be a Red Flag
- If coupon is circulated via email from a friend, may be a Red Flag
- PDF files can easily be changed. Make sure it is from the product website only before you print some random link.
- Get the coupons from the source itself, or check the Coupon Information Center’s website for up to date fraudulent coupons.
- If the coupon seems too good to be true, it probably is!
MORE Informational coupon tips can be found below and in our Coupon Beginners Guide
- Importance of Proper Coupon Usage
- Search for a Deal Feature
- Save Your Coupon Inserts
- Tips on telling what coupons may be Fraudulent
- Take it Easy!
- Save Your Change
- It’s okay not to be “extreme”
- Tips on Peelie Coupons found on Products
- Coupon Ethics, Coupon Usage, and More!