Two ladies in Ohio apparently used 350 counterfeit coupons valued at $1,895 and were unable to convince the judge they were victimized by coupon counterfeit scammers. Each was sentenced to community service, probation, court costs and almost $5,000 reimbursement to CVS.
The incident might raise red flags to the couponer on the danger of coupon identification as to whether legitimate or fraudulent. Couponing still serves to be a great way for couponers to save money but it is important to understand the rules if you’re going to play the game. Unfortunately there is not “Get out of jail free card,” for those who land upon fraudulent coupons.
So let’s go over some of the tips to keep you out of trouble when it comes to identifying coupons.
• If a coupon does not link you to the store’s website but to another unrelated site.
• If the store’s website makes no mention of any such coupon on their site.
• Photocopied coupons are a no go. It is usually easy to see whether this is the case on the website.
• Missing barcodes, unmatched font or a designer look coupon.
• Check the coupon list online to see which coupons have been reported as fraudulent. Visit couponinformationcenter.com/psa-list.php.
• The UPC code should consist of 12 numbers. The first identifies the coupon, the second through fifth identify the manufacture, the sixth through ninth are a code assigned by manufacture, the 10th and 11th determine a coupon’s value and the 12th is a cashier’s validation identification.
• No small print information is visible.
• There are longer-than-normal expiration dates.
• The coupon is simply too good to be true.
• Any coupons attached to emails.
• A .pdf coupon not hosted directly from the manufacturer’s website.
Be alert when it comes to buying coupons online, trading coupons with people you don’t personally know or printing from unknown resources. All of these tips will help the consumer avoid coupon fraud while still being able to safely save money.
If coupon fraud is suspected, report it immediately to Coupon Information Center, P.O. Box 320224, Alexandria, VA 22320. Working together in this way will help consumers safely continue to benefit from the savings of coupons. Providing this information to the coupon information center is what helps them stay on top of current scams.
Ann Haney is a mother to six entrepreneurial-minded children, ordained minister, CEO of Aaron Publishing, founder of Ann Haney Ministries and Living In Abundance, nationwide motivational speaker, coupon specialist, empowerment coach and bestselling author of 20 published products, including her books, “Judgment Overruled,” “Exploding Into Successful Entrepreneurship,” “Single Steps In A Married World” and “Changing Your Life Through Couponing Financial Empowerment Series.” Ann Haney ministry’s vision is helping women know the root of their challenge and deliver them from the death grip it holds on their life by surfacing their inner beauty and confidence, helping young people discover their God-given purpose and pursue it with passion, helping men and women learn to use the resources available to them to overcome their circumstances and helping those recovering from life’s choices and challenges receive second chances without condemnation. Contact Ann at [email protected] to schedule a speaking engagement, individual coaching or view her website for more information at annhaney.com.