According to the Coupon Information Corporation, coupon fraud occurs when an individual redeems a coupon that it was not intended for, or in a manner that violates the terms and conditions explicitly printed on the coupon. It is also using a coupon that is counterfeit or altered. Retailers can commit coupon fraud by presenting coupons to the company for the payment of items that were never sold.
If you’re new to couponing, then here are some tips to remember on how to avoid coupon fraud:
- Always read the fine print and follow the terms and conditions printed on the coupon.
- Be ethical in couponing. Think twice before grabbing numerous coupon booklets, buying more than you need, removing all the coupons from a tear pad, and so on.
- Do not print, copy or scan more coupons than permitted.
- Do not modify, change or alter a coupon in any way.
- Do not use coupons for products other than those specified on the coupon, or in any way other than specified. Do not use coupons for a size or product excluded on the coupon’s fine print.
- Do not use expired coupons, unless the store specifically states that expired coupons are accepted.
- Do not use coupons for store items that you did not pay for.
- Do not decode bar codes on coupons.
- Do not purchase coupons from another source. Majority of the coupons in the country include a clause that makes them void if transferred. Besides, you want to avoid purchasing counterfeit or stolen coupons.
- Watch out for red flags. If you aren’t sure if a particular coupon is legal, watch out for warning signs that it may be fraudulent.
Some people believe that coupon fraud is no big deal, but it can actually be considered a violation of federal, state and local laws. An individual can be fined, or even jailed for committing coupon fraud.
When couponing, keep in mind that a coupon is essentially a contract. By using a particular coupon, you are technically agreeing to the terms and conditions printed on it. You may be held legally responsible should you decide to redeem that coupon against the stated terms.