Sunday

COUPON FRAUD: BUYING OR SELLING COUPONS: COUPONING 101



COUPON FRAUD – BUYING OR SELLING COUPONS – COUPONING 101


Coupon Fraud is on the rise again and the TLC Extreme Couponing Show continues to support and air the practice, teaching unknowing and uneducated new couponers all the ways NOT to use coupons.

Nearly 2 years ago, I published my opinion about buying and selling coupons HERE One of the other reasons that manufacturers are distributing LESS coupons now and are straying from high value coupons.

This time around, I thought I’d provide more FACTS from the CIC (Official Coupon Information Center) to further endorse my opinion on this matter. I can’t believe it’s been nearly 2 years since I first wrote about this! Yet, to date, I have still NEVER bought or sold a coupon online, and I shop for FREE every week.

The following information comes straight from the CIC :

Couponing 101 – Coupon Sales on Internet Auction Sites

Coupon auctions may be removed from Internet auction sites for various reasons:

Some auction sites prohibit the sale of coupons on their sites
Some auction sites restrict the number of coupons you can sell on their site
An auction may violate the manufacturers’ nontransferability clause
An auction may violate a copyright or a trademark belonging to the coupon issuing manufacturer
An auction may be selling counterfeit coupons
An auction may violate the Digital Millennium Copyright Act
Virtually every coupon issued in the United States features a “nontransferability clause” that prohibits the sale or other unauthorized transfer of the coupon and voids the coupon in the event of such a transfer.
Many coupon sellers include “legal disclaimers” in an effort to claim that they are not really selling coupons, for example, stating that they are instead selling the envelope the containing the coupons, or their time and effort to obtain and clip the coupons, not the coupons themselves. Such “disclaimers” are invalid and do not provide the seller with any legal protection. Indeed, such obviously false statements merely underscore the fact that the sellers are aware that the sale of coupons is prohibited and improper.
The unauthorized sale of coupons increases consumer costs, provides outlets for stolen and counterfeit coupons, and creates opportunities for organized criminal enterprises. See the Federal Trade Commission’s brochure on “Costly Coupon Scams” at this link: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/pubs/consumer/invest/inv06.shtm
Can I sell my extra coupons?

No, there is no legitimate way to sell your unwanted coupons.

The sale or transfer of coupons is a violation of virtually all manufacturers’ coupon redemption policies. These policies are generally printed on the coupons or are available from the manufacturer upon request. Any sale or transfer voids the coupon.

Persons purchasing coupons have often been associated with organized criminal activities. They often purchase the coupons as one aspect of a scheme to defraud the coupon issuers/manufacturers, usually by seeking to redeem coupons without purchasing any products. Individuals selling coupons to such crime rings have been charged with and convicted of criminal violations.

What about selling “the service of clipping coupons” or an envelope that “just happens to contain coupons”?

Individuals selling or auctioning coupons often know that such sales and auctions are in violation of the terms and conditions of the coupons. As such, they may include an invalid disclaimer, such as, “I’m selling my time to clip the coupons, not the coupons themselves. Such disclaimers are invalid and do not provide any legal protection to either party. Such obviously invalid disclaimers merely serve to prove that the seller/auctioneer knows that their illicit coupon sales are inappropriate, wrong, and subject to civil and/or criminal penalties, depending on the situation.

Can I buy coupons?

No, there are good reasons not to purchase coupons. In addition to being in violation of the manufacturers’ policies, it simply does not make sense to pay for something that is given away for free.

Coupons being sold on the Internet or by other means may be stolen property or counterfeit. Individuals attempting to use these coupons may be subject to prosecution.

How can I avoid getting counterfeit coupons?

Simply use the coupons you obtain from your newspaper, manufacturer’s web site or their authorized coupon distributor.

Never pay money for a coupon
Do not download coupons from Internet forums
If a friend e-mails you coupons, especially high value or free product coupons, the coupons are most likely counterfeit.
Most manufacturers follow common sense practices about Internet Print-at-Home Coupons, for example, the coupon itself should not be visible on your computer screen.
Check the counterfeit coupons listed on the CIC website
As I’ve said many times before – using Coupons in the way that they were intended to be used, along with strategic planning of your shopping trips is the ONLY ethical and legal option. In 15+ years of couponing, I have yet to stray from my opinion on this matter and yet I still shop for FREE on a weekly basis.

There is just no need or justification to do it differently.