As the world of couponing becomes more and more prominent in our society, unfortunately so does crime! Those trying to take even more advantage of savings have resorted to creating counterfeit coupons that look completely legit to the untrained eye.
As theft (yes, using fraudulent coupons is THEFT) becomes increasingly popular manufacturers, retailers and customers are affected more and more by loss, higher prices, few coupons, lower face values and short expiration windows. We're all paying the price for dishonesty.
So what do we do?
Well, the CIC (Coupon Information Corporation) and Manufacturers have banded together to offer rewards of up to $100,000 for the successful prosecution of counterfeit coupon creators!
Individuals and internet sites attempting to redeem, transmit, auction, post, reproduce, transfer, barter, or sell counterfeit coupons may be subject to criminal prosecution and/or civil action!
This means if you attempt to use a counterfeit coupon, even unknowingly, you could be arrested!
So, what can you do.....?
1) Make yourself aware of the current fraudulent coupons and how to detect a fake coupon by visiting the CIC database here
2) Do not buy coupons (Ebay is the biggest source for fraudulent coupons)
3) Do not download printable coupons from forums and message boards
4) If a friend e-mails you coupons, especially high value or free product coupons, the coupons are most likely counterfeit.
5) 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, so if you can see it, don't print it!
We understand that most couponers are savings legally and ethically. So we encourage continuing to do so. If you find a suspicious internet coupon, do not confront the site, just report the exact website URL, poster screen name, date, and if you can take a screen shot (use the "print screen" function on your keyboard and save the image using a "Paint" or other software on your computer) and send to one of the following:
The Coupon Information Corporation
115-D South Saint Asaph Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Communications will be kept confidential.
Contact one of the law enforcement agencies listed below:
Federal Trade Commission: http://www.ftc.gov
Federal Bureau of Investigation: http://www.fbi.gov
Internal Revenue Service: http://www.irs.ustreas.gov