How to Avoid Committing Coupon Fraud

How to Avoid Committing Coupon Fraud

You probably already know how I feel about the practice of extreme couponing. There’s a new phenomenon sweeping the country called coupon fraud. Coupon fraud is a problem throughout the country. Couponing is still a popular way for consumers to save money on groceries and other household items. You certainly don’t want to be caught fraudulently using coupons at your local grocery store. So, we’ve made this post to inform you about what it is and how to avoid committing coupon fraud. Here are some of the ways to avoid using illegitimate and illegal coupons.

A report from says that, “Coupon fraud is a punishable offense and, while penalties vary case by case, the Coupon Information Corporation says that the harshest convictions for this type of fraud include a 17-year prison sentence and a financial penalty of $5 million.

“However, when it comes to coupon fraud, the problem for most shoppers typically is not creating them, but accidentally purchasing or redeeming them.”

The report explains that consumers should ensure their coupons don’t have an unusually long expiration date or appear to be altered.  You must also check the the bar codes appearance. Do they look legitimate? Are they scratched or fuzzy? Instructions from the retailer should be visible on most coupons. If you don’t see instructions or terms on the coupon, it may be a fake. Never photocopy coupons. That would be considered fraudulent as well.

The Coupon Information Center says that you may not sell your coupons either.

“There is no legitimate way to sell your unwanted coupons. The sale or transfer of coupons is a violation of virtually all manufacturers’ coupon redemption policies. These policies are generally printed on the coupons or are available from the manufacturer upon request. Any sale or transfer voids the coupon.”

But what about those sites that sell coupons and coupon inserts, you say? explains that what these sites are selling is, “their cost for clipping, grouping, managing and mailing the coupons. They claim they are selling a service and not the actual coupons. The costs can be from under a dollar to monthly subscription rates.”

In reality, these sites illegally sell coupons through a loophole in the law. Most manufacturers say this practice makes the coupons void but they have very little recourse towards actually stopping the services.

The moral here is to make sure you are honest in your coupon usage. You should always be aware that there could be fraudulent coupons out there on the market. A good way to think of coupons that sums up this whole moral quandary is that coupons are essentially free money being handed out by a manufacturer or store. Sure, this ‘money’ may come with stipulations. And, the coupons may only exist due to internal reasons (such as a surplus of stock). But, the coupons are essentially money being handed out for absolutely no reason other than to entice you to buy something. Coupons should be treated as such.

That’s your frugal living post for today, readers. If you liked this posts on how to avoid coupon fraud, let us know in the comments below. Better yet, tell us about your experiences with coupon fraud on our Facebook page. While you’re there, tell us about your preferred methods of how to live frugally. We may run it in a future post.

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