Coupons are a great way to provide direct and honest savings to the American consumer. This savings can range from a few cents to thousands of dollars.
That savings over time can really make a difference especially when it comes to a family of four. The savings can add up pretty quick.
Think Coupons Are Awesome?
If you think coupons are awesome let me know in the comments below. Tell me what you like about coupons the most.
Coupon Scams: Not Awesome!
With the potential to ‘save’ thousands criminal elements have reared their ugly heads in the coupon business.
These criminals; according to the Coupon Information Corporation; flood the market with over $600 million a year worth of fake coupons.
You Could Be A Part Of It
In the coupon scam business the criminals sometimes are hard to tell apart from the customers that use them. In fact there are some behaviors that customers do that technically are illegal.
That is why in this article I will go over what a coupon is, how to use them, illegal activities and how to avoid some of the most popular coupon scams out there.
What Is A Coupon?
According to the CIC (Coupon Information Corporation) a coupon is the following:
“A coupon is a certificate with a stated value if it is used when purchasing a specified product in accordance with the coupon’s terms and conditions”
Basically a coupon is used to help reduce the cost of a certain item that is stated on the coupon. The coupon can be either paper or electronic (apps) and it can only be used for that product and for a certain time (expiration date).
The most common usage of coupons is while shopping for food.
Where Do Coupons Come From?
Coupons come from the manufacturers or makers of the product and the coupons offer savings that are felt immediately. Coupons are commonly found online via apps and in newspapers with the weekend editions featuring the most paper coupons.
How Do You Use Coupons?
* Please read your coupons to find out exactly how to use them*
Generally you can either cut out paper coupons or download coupons via phone apps. You then present the coupons to the cashier at the time of purchase.
The coupons are scanned and the saving is felt immediately.
The coupons then are taken by the cashier and you leave with your products and a little extra money in your pocket.
How Do You Use Your Coupons?
How do you use your coupons? Do you use them for food, clothes, cars? Let me know in the comments below.
Can I Sell Coupons?
To quote Negan from The Walking Dead, “That is a no-no.”
There is no legitimate way to sell your coupons. The very act of selling coupons technically voids the coupon itself.
This policy is printed on all paper coupons, it is in small print, but it is PRINTED.
If there is no print stating the policy you can ask for it from the manufacturer and they are required to provide it to you.
Criminal Organizations Tied With Selling Coupons
Frequently people buying coupons have been associated with criminal organizations.
This association is based on the reality that purchased coupons are just one tier of an organizations attempts to defraud the manufacturer or coupon issuer.
Some coupons are used to redeem ‘mail in rebates’ with no proof that he product was purchased.
Clipping Coupons As A ‘Service’
Some people claim that they are not actively selling coupons, they are just clipping coupons as a ‘service’ and are paid for that ‘service’. This is an invalid argument that universally is not accepted in the US court system. It does not matter in the eyes of the law ‘selling is selling’.
So avoid people who offer to ‘sell’ their services for ‘clipping coupons’. Selling coupons is illegal plain and simple.
Can I Buy Coupons?
The only way you can legally ‘buy a coupon’ is if the coupon is affixed to the product or inside the product at the time of purchase. If it is affixed it may be used then or at the ‘next purchase’.
For coupons inside a product that could mean a newspaper.
Otherwise it is illegal to buy coupons as well, it does not make sense to pay for something that is free anyway.
Online Coupons For Sale?
if you come across any ‘coupons for sale’ on the internet avoid buying them as they could be stolen property. You don’t want a ‘purchasing stolen property’ charge on your record. It is best to just report sales of coupons online to the proper authorities.
I will discuss that in detail coming up.
What Is Coupon Fraud?
Coupon Fraud happens when a person Intentionally uses a coupon for a product that they DID NOT purchase or failed to use according to the coupons terms and conditions at the time of redemption.
This can also happen if the coupon is altered/counterfeited to be used for a purpose it was never to be used for.
2 Types Of Coupon Fraud
There are two types of coupon fraud.
- Paper coupon scams
- Coupon scams online
Coupon Scams Online
This type is gaining in popularity as the years go by. This type of coupon scam involves tricking people into believing that they have to pay to get legit coupons emailed to them.
This type also works by people sending you ‘free’ coupons via email only to discover that a virus is hidden within the coupons waiting to be unleashed.
Paper Coupon Scams
This type is by far the most common and the main focus of this article. As you have already read coupon fraud does involve both buying and selling of coupons. It also involves severe penalties if caught.
Penalties For Coupon Fraud
The penalty for coupon fraud depends on the circumstances of the crime. However below are a few facts on what the penalties can be.
- Highest Financial Penalty Paid: $5 million
- Longest Prison Sentence: 17 YEARS!
- Common Prison Sentences: 3-5 years
- Common Financial Penalties: $200,000 +
Since 1986 not one single defendant in a CIC case has been acquitted, NOT ONE!
I suggest to just not engage in coupon fraud, you have better things to do then spend 17 years in prison.
How To Avoid Getting Counterfeit Coupons
The simplest way to avoid getting counterfeit coupons is to only get coupons from either your newspaper, manufacturer’s website or an authorized coupon distributor known to the manufacturer.
Doing this will save you a lot of time and energy.
However there are other ways to avoid getting bunk coupons.
- Never PAY for any coupons from anyone.
- Don’t download any ‘coupons’ from any internet forums.
- Any email that includes ‘free’ or ‘high value’ coupons are most likely fake.
- For a List of KNOWN Counterfeit Coupons click the CIC link HERE.
Know Any Other Tips To Avoid Coupon Scams?
If you know of any other ways to avoid coupon scams let me know in the comments below. I would be glad to update this article in the future with more tips.
Report A Coupon Scam
If you the victim of a coupon scam or you suspect a coupon might be counterfeit you must report it to the proper authorities.
To contact the Coupon Information Corporation click HERE.
To begin the process of reporting a scam to a U.S. Federal Agency click HERE.
It is very important that you keep all records relating to the coupon scam and let the authorizes handle it. Do not confront the scammer or organization.
Why Should I Care?
Many people look at coupon scams as ‘small time’ scams and think that they won’t ever be affected.
Well that may true but in many cases criminal organizations only use coupon scams as a front to engage in larger and worse scams.
Reported and documented activities that have included coupon scams are as follows:
- Tax Evasion
- Money Laundering
- Drug Dealing
- SNAP (Food Stamp) Fraud
- Commercial Credit Card Fraud
This type of scam also specifically targets legit charities, the poor, the elderly & the uneducated.
Don’t Be A Sucker, Share this page and help others avoid this scam.
Leave A Comment Below
If you have any questions about coupon fraud or have yourself been a victim of coupon fraud please share below. I would be glad to answer your questions and direct you to any resources to help you.
Earning, Making & Saving Online Member