If a printableÂ coupon seems too good to be true, it IS too good to be true. It’s likely a FAKE.
Example? The FREE Doritos printable coupon that has been spread from friend to friend via email the past few months. It looks like any other printable coupon and seems very convincing (there’s a clear bar code and everything!), but there are warning signs.
How do I know ifÂ a printable coupon is a fraud?
NO PRINT LIMIT
Any pdf coupon that is not found directly on a manufacturer’s website should be considered suspect. The Doritos coupon even prints 6 coupon copies on one piece of paper. Can you imagine any manufacturer wanting to distribute that many free product coupons to consumers? Most legitimate printable coupons are distributed through coupon software that limits consumers to 2 prints per computer (and places a unique code on each one – think about coupons you’ve printed from coupons.com or Bricks links).
HIGH REDEMPTION VALUE
Printable coupons are rarely worth the full retail price of an item. Any printable coupon $5.00 and up is likely to be fraudulent (the Doritos coupon, for example, has a maximum redemption value of $5.00). When available, free item coupons are generally mailed directly from the manufacturer and include security measures like watermarks and/or foil strips with or without holograms.
LONG EXPIRATION DATE
Printable coupons usually have expiration dates that last anywhere from one month to three months past today’s date. While this can vary, you know you may be dealing with a counterfeit if the date on the printable coupon is more than six months long. The Doritos coupon doesn’t expire until 12-31-10 (but has been circulating since April).
Why should I care?
From the Coupon Information Corporation: Counterfeit Coupons are a major challenge for the industry. Simply put, counterfeits are fake coupons. The quality of counterfeits varies widely, from obvious fakes to some with very skilled printing. Most fakes currently in circulation are for free products or high values and are produced on home/office equipment. A widely distributed counterfeit coupon can cause losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) and can strip grocery shelves of product , preventing honest consumers from purchasing the product.
As a shopper who uses coupons, this affects you even more directly! When counterfeit printable coupons are redeemed at stores, those stores suffer a monetary loss. Not only may the store be forced to raise prices, but they may reconsider their current coupon acceptance policy.
If you’re a Kroger shopper, you’ve experienced this firsthand. KrogerÂ once accepted printable coupons without a hassle. A number of counterfeits and losses later and they’ve been forced to rethink their policy. Now, however, they will redeem absolutely NO free item printable couponsÂ orÂ printable coupons that exceed 75% of the item’s value. Many shoppers have been frustrated to have their legitimate printable coupons (including $1.50/2 Kellogg’s coupons recently) rejected at the register.Â Some Kroger stores even claim to reject all printable coupons valued over $1.00, though it’s not in their official Print-at-Home Coupon Acceptance Policy (you may want to shop with this in hand if you’re a Kroger shopper).
What should I do if I think a coupon is a fake?
You’ll want to visit the Coupon Information Corporation (CIC) , which tracks and reports the latest counterfeit coupons. You can contact them directly for more information or browse through the most recently reported fake printable coupons.
Did you know? Coupons may NEVER be photocopied. Only originals are accepted – all others are fraudulent.