Are you accidentally engaging in coupon misredemption?
While coupons are a fantastic way to make savings, it’s important to be mindful and cautious. Some people create fake coupons or alter coupons to increase the savings. These acts are considered illegal.
So, what exactly is coupon misredemption, and how can you spot it? Most importantly, how can you avoid fraudulent couponing?
Read on, so you can coupon legally and safely!
What is Coupon Misredemption?
Coupon misredemption is when you use a coupon in a fraudulent way. This could mean altering a coupon to edit its expiration date, or outright counterfeiting a coupon. It also includes using a coupon for a product that you didn’t purchase.
Retailers can also commit coupon fraud! The most common method is by submitting a coupon to a company for products that they did not actually sell. Coupon misredemption violates laws at both the state and federal level.
What are the Common Forms of Coupon Fraud?
There are many different forms of coupon fraud. Here are the most common:
This is altering the fine print, such as adjusting the expiration date, the value, or even the barcode on the coupon. Causing a glitch in the barcode, which changes the way you can use the coupon, is also called “coupon glittering.”
This form of coupon fraud involves using a coupon to buy the wrong product. For example, if your coupon is “buy-one-get-one” for Dove chocolate, and you try to convince the cashier to let you use it for Hershey’s chocolate instead, that is coupon misredemption!
Also known as “gang cutting,” this involves printing many copies of a coupon that is only meant to be used once per customer. This allows you to use it at multiple different stores – illegally.
Buying and Selling Coupons
All coupons in the United States have a non-transferability rule. This rule is stated by the manufacturer on each coupon outlining the redemption policy for the specific coupon. Giving coupons away to your family and friends is absolutely fine. Coupon clipping services, which charge a fee to cover shipping and labor costs are also fine; you’re buying their time and efforts as a service. Additionally, there are no local, state, or federal laws prohibiting the sale of coupons. Using a clipping service to obtain your coupons may violate the coupon's redemption policy, but it would be up to the store and/or manufacturer to not accept the coupon.
Using Expired Coupons
Some stores may accept expired coupons under specific circumstances. However, in most cases, if a store accepts an expired coupon, the cashier can get in trouble.
In their fine print, coupons usually state they cannot be used on items for resale. This also means that selling an item you bought using a coupon is a form of coupon fraud!
This may go without saying because theft is a crime regardless. However, if you steal a newspaper in order to use the coupons, that is also coupon fraud. Always be sure to ask if you can have a newsstand’s leftover papers before you take them.
How to Recognize Coupon Misredemption
These many types of fraud may seem intimidating at first. However, it is very easy to avoid taking part in coupon fraud. Here are some red flags to look out for, so that you can spot coupon misredemption in advance.
- A coupon that does not have a barcode is most likely fake!
- Keep an eye on the fine print. If the coupon doesn’t have any terms of usage on it, then it’s probably counterfeit or altered.
- If the coupon’s fine print states it can be redeemed even if you haven’t made a purchase, that’s a red flag.
- Watch for coupons that are valued as more than the item’s actual price. Valid coupons will always match the price of the item or less.
How Can You Avoid Coupon Misredemption?
One thing’s for sure: make sure to use coupons properly at all times! Here are some tips for avoiding coupon misredemption.
Read the Fine Print
Always take a moment to read the fine print on a coupon before you try to use it. If you read something fishy – such as no purchase is necessary to use it - do not use the coupon. It may be fake!
If you aren’t sure whether a coupon is legitimate, ask a cashier for help.
Use Official Company Websites
The internet is a great place to find printable coupons. However, it is also very easy for fraudsters to share fake coupons online!
Avoid printing coupons from internet forums or random people’s websites. Instead, go to the websites of the stores or manufacturers you are interested in. Store apps are also a safe place to get legitimate coupons.
Why Sunday Coupon Inserts?
Coupons are great money-saving tools, but only when used wisely. So long as you double-check your coupons, stay diligent, and only use reputable sources for coupon-collecting, you can save money without worry.
Sunday Coupon Inserts is a coupon clipping service with a Weekly Subscriptions program. Just select how many coupon packages you want to receive each week and, for a small shipping and labor fee, Sunday Coupon Inserts will ship those coupons to you.
Best of all, you are completely in control of your subscription. You can start or stop receiving the coupons whenever you want, without any cancelation fees or restrictions!