Coupon fraud – it’s serious business. It costs stores a lot of money every year and we (the consumer) pay for other peoples misuse of coupons. Stores are not reimbursed for fraudulent activity and the cost associated with this fraud is passed on to us in the form of higher prices. It is estimated that coupon fraud costs retailers approximately $300 million dollars per year.
Here are some important things to know:
- Do not photocopy, scan, or fax coupons. It is illegal to do so. If the coupon is not legitimate and you receive the discount (amount of the coupon) the store will not receive reimbursement for the amount of the coupon.
- Read the fine print on the coupon and follow it.
- Don’t use expired coupons.
- Be suspicious of coupons that are in a PDF format. They are often fraudulent.
- If you think a coupon is too good to be true, it probably is a fraudulent coupon.
The CIC (Coupon Information Corporation) is a great source of information and a place to check often for information.
There are severe penalties for coupon fraud:
- 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.
- Go here to see the current counterfeit coupons in circulation.