Counterfeit coupons? Yes, they DO exist. Clipping and attempting to use a counterfeit coupon could result in your arrest is the clerk gives you the discount. The charge would be fraud and the penalties could be severe.
Why are counterfeit coupons created? Who knows? The world is full of evil people who create viruses and other such destructive nonsense. Makes no sense to me.
One of the best ways is to go to the Coupon Information Corporation and check just to make sure, though they don’t have ALL counterfeits listed – they can’t. Another way to guarantee a coupon is fake is to buy it in an online auction. Thieves will generate a batch of counterfeit coupons (really GOOD ones), snap a few pictures for their auction, and then sell them for half price or less to unsuspecting coupon clippers.
And these fake coupons look real. They have bar codes, and many have expiration dates, the appropriate logos, and believable savings. Use them and you could face charges if the clerk is fooled. If the clerk isn’t fooled, you face the embarrassment of standing there at the checkout counter and having your coupon refused.
Counterfeit coupons increase a business’ costs
Stores bundle up the coupons they receive and send them to the manufacturers for redemption. Yes, they redeem coupons too. When a counterfeit coupon is refused by the manufacturer having been allowed by the retailer, guess who eats it? The retailer. That fake coupon increases the retailer’s cost of doing business and those costs are eventually passed along to consumers.
Fake and counterfeit coupons are becoming a widespread problem. So much that some retailers are now refusing any online print-at-home coupons, which hurts us all.
Avoiding a fake coupon
Here are a few clues that may indicate that a coupon is fake:
- It came in an unsolicited email. Never click on any links in an unsolicited email.
- It’s free to print out. According to the Coupon Information Corporation, there are no legitimate offers for free products, without any purchase, that can be printed from a home computer. Real online freebies require consumers to sign up, and the manufacturer then mails the coupon to you. Now not all print-at-home coupons are fake, just make sure the website you’re printing them from is legitimate. Real buy-one, get-one free coupons and those promising a percentage or specific amount off can be printed online.
- It has no barcode. Manufacturers use barcodes to track their coupons. Not having one is a dead ringer for a fake coupon.
- It has no expiration. Virtually ALL real coupons have an expiration date that makes sense. Most coupons expire in about three months or so.
- If a coupon is displayed onscreen as an image, it’s usually counterfeit or unauthorized. Many manufacturers now avoid showing the actual coupon to prevent it from being copied.
Only use offers on manufacturers’ websites. There are other reputable coupon sites such as www.coupons.com,www.coolsavings.com and www.couponmom.com. But unless you have previously enrolled at a website to get coupon offers, don’t click on any e-mailed offers you receive.
Is that coupon real or counterfeit? Go to the Coupon Information Corporation site where you can see images of phony coupons. You’ll be amazed at how realistic these counterfeit coupons are.
Prosecutors and law enforcement officials WILL go after the printers of these counterfeits, and you could also face penalties, fines, and possibly worse if you use them.