6 Ways to Spot Fake Coupons

by News Guy on April 9, 2010

Brought to you by Coupon Sherpa

Before you load up the grocery cart with your latest two-for-one deal, make sure your coupon will pass the test at checkout. With scams and fakes abounding, it’s never been more imperative that you know how to check for an authentic coupon.

1. Company Info Iffy

Manufacturer coupons always print their name clearly. The absence of a company name is a clear warning the deal’s a dud. Widespread Photoshop use has made this a bit more difficult to identify, but your first step is to locate the producer of the product.

2. No Expiration Date

Almost all single-series coupons issued include an expiration date. If your deal doesn’t include one, it’s a good bet it isn’t legitimate. While some companies accept expired deals, most businesses will reject coupons if “No Expiration Date” is printed on it.

3. No Barcode

Coupons are a marketing strategy, so manufacturers put barcodes on them to track their effectiveness. This goes for online coupons, mobile coupons and newspaper coupons. LA missing barcode is a red flag that something isn’t right.

4. Don’t Buy Coupons

That tiny fine print you can’t read at the bottom certifies that the sale of any coupon deems it void. Since several states require coupons to offer cash value, most are 1/20th of a cent — so worthless it’s not worth collecting. There is, however, a broad gray area when ordering coupons from auction sites or other venues. Sellers can legally charge a “processing fee” or shipping fee.

5. Beware the Coupon Certificate Booklet

The big coupon books sold as fundraisers — usually to local restaurants and establishments — isn’ a new concept. But before helping your high school’s volleyball team score new uniforms, make sure you ask a few questions about the coupons. How are the coupons collected? What are the costs and handling fees for the booklet? How do you prevent bogus coupons from being included?

6. Report Fraud

If you spot a fraudulet coupon, call the Coupon Information Corporation. Coupon fraud can incur up to 17 years in prison and a financial penalty in the millions for serious offenders.

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