Recognizing Fakes: Real vs. Fake Coupons
Posted: 09/28/09 8:26 PM (Modified: 01/07/11 2:08 PM)
I wanted to bring back a post I wrote a couple months ago about the issue of fraudulent coupons. Keep in mind, chances are most of the coupons you will find are real, but just in case, here’s a great guide to help you recognize fakes.
When trying to determine if a coupon is real or fake, ask yourself these questions:
1. Is the offer too good to be true?
Most companies will not offer totally free products. If they do, you will find such offers on the manufacturer website and/or you will receive them via snail mail in the form of a ‘real’ coupon or they will be a part of a social media promotion (such as facebook) which are directly from the company itself. When you see internet printable coupons for totally free products, make sure you know for sure that the coupon is from the manuf. Still in doubt? Post the question on our Money Saving Queen forums.
2. Does the coupon have an expiration date? Almost all coupons have an expiration date especially if they are internet coupons. If you find an internet printable coupon without an expiration date, it is more than likely fraudulent especially if that coupon offers a ‘free’ product.
3. Is the coupon for an unreasonable amount? For example, is the coupon $10 off the purchase of one bottled water? If the value of the coupon is strangely large then it is fraudulent.
This Target coupon, for example, was originally $5 of a $25 toy purchase however, the wording was altered to make this coupon $5 off any $25 purchase. That move cost Target money and then forced the chain to invalidate the original toy coupon too. Would you have recognized that as a fraudulent coupon?
4. What type of coupon is it? Is the coupon a .pdf file? Coupons that come in the form of a .pdf file or even a .jpeg picture can be altered and therefore could be fraudulent. There are exceptions to this rule, one being if you found the coupon on the manufacturers website.
The coupons that come in the form of .pdf files that are fraudulent typically have the other elements I’ve described in this post such as no expiration date and/or they are for totally free products. And, they are normally sent via e-mail from friends not companies.
5. How did you receive the coupon? Was the coupon e-mailed to you or did you print it directly from a coupon site? Most e-mailed coupons tend to be fraudulent unless they are e-mails directing you to print the coupon off from a legitimate site or the manufacturer’s site.
I do my best to make sure a coupon is completely legit. I will say that even I have been fooled a few times. Check all coupons by asking yourself the above questions. Stores have lost millions to coupon fraud which is why many stores do have problems taking internet coupons from time to time.
Remember, coupon fraud is a crime and it hurts those of us who actually use coupons legitimately.
If you are wondering where to print legit coupons, check out our Coupon Page and our Coupon Database. All coupons we post on MoneySavingQueen.com are legit coupons to the best of our knowledge.