My most recent post ( Letter To Food Lion / Accused of Coupon Fraud ) sparked many emails and comments about what makes a Coupon "Fraudulent" and other things that I feel very strongly we should all be educated about.

If you are going to coupon, which is the equivalent of Making Extra Money for your family, then you should take it that seriously and "Be armed" with other words, KNOW YOUR TRADE ! It's like working a job and getting paid to do it, but not knowing the rules? That would be absurd!

So, here we go. If you are serious about couponing to save at least $50-100 per week, it's a MUST.

First up is to know that You CANNOT Copy coupons! It enrages me every time I see someone on Facebook posting that they got 10 coupons because they copied them (and those comments are daily across the blogosphere!). THIS IS FRAUD. Each individual coupon is verifiable through for ONE TIME USE. The coupon format, barcode and scan numbers are coded with the information that tells the retailer, manufacturer and/or coupon verification software what I.P. address was used (your location) and is traceable directly back to you. So if you make copies, once they are used and then returned as invalid, it can be traced to you having made illegal copies. You can and will be prosecuted for Coupon Fraud. Penalties for those convicted of coupon fraud related crimes vary by each case and the number of laws violated.Here's the breakdown on that:

As of this date:
  • Longest prison sentence: 17 years
  • Highest financial penalty: $5 million
  • Prison sentences of three to five years are not uncommon
  • Financial penalties generally vary, but have often been in excess of $200,000

  • OK, that's for the obvious, that you should definately know is a NO, NO in the coupon rulebook. I hope that we don't have anyone here that is doing this. It is the reason behind all of the problems we have at the register and all of the suspicions behind internet printable coupons. PLEASE DO NOT DO THIS!!

    Next big mistake/rule breaker is using a coupon for an item other than what the coupon states. Sure, you might get away with it, but say I use a $1 off Tide 50oz on a Tide 30oz. The retailer/store WILL NOT get reimbursed for that coupon, which results in higher store prices for us as well as even more in depth scrutiny over using coupons at the register.

    Here are more examples of fraudulent misuse of coupons:
  • Using a coupon for other than what is written on the coupon.
  • Using the coupon for another product that is not listed on the coupon.
  • Purchasing a different size than what is listed on the coupon.
  • Purchasing a different quantity than what is listed on the coupon.
  • Purchasing less than specified minimum dollar amount when using a coupon for $X off a purchase of $Y or more.
  • Using a coupon after it has expired (unless approved-few stores do so)

    OK, next up and one of the next best things to know is that the P&G Brand Name, which consists of many brands we know & use, DOES NOT ever issue or authorize Internet Printable Coupons. So, if you receive a link to a coupon to print for a P&G Brand Product, it is fraudulent without a doubt. You can only receive their coupons via mail, product packaging, etc. NEVER INTERNET PRINTABLES. More info Here

    Finally, visiting THIS WEBSITE will give you a more in depth look at what retail stores are facing with Coupon Fraud. It is a shame and it makes it worse on all of us that are using coupons legitimately to save our families money. View THIS LIST for all the current Fraudulent Coupons that are floating around, and make sure you don't have any of these. There are rewards on some of them if you should find one, report it.

    I hope these tidbits at least make you stop and think about the responsibility of using coupons legitimately. As you can see through my weekly (sometimes daily) posts here and on Facebook, using coupons the way they were intended can and does save serious money and result in many freebies...just make sure you know what you can/cannot do. Knowledge is power!
    Bookmark and Share