I prefer to keep things light hearted and encouraging around here, but from time to time a tough topic comes up that must be addressed. It’s come to light that during the TLC Extreme Couponing show it’s very likely coupon fraud took place. With that in mind, I thought it was important that I post a refresher about coupon fraud and what you need to know and avoid.
This topic makes me so very sad. The fact is that coupons have literally saved many households from massive debt and transformed the lifestyles of millions of people nationwide. Just from the numerous emails I get daily from my small pool of readers – you’re saving big and it’s a real blessing to your family. So when I hear about stores buckling down on their coupon policies as a result of “coupon fraud” it makes me sick.
Coupon fraud hurts everyone and it’s just not right! The stores do not get reimbursed if a coupon is not used properly, is expired, or altered. You are in fact stealing if you knowingly use a coupon in a way it is not intended to be used.
If you’re unsure if a coupon is valid, you can check this list of known fraudulent coupons first. You should know that ANY coupon I post here on The Frugal Find is safe to use and coupons from coupons.com, redplum.com, Coupon Network, or Smartsource.com have their own encrypted fraud safeguarding. They can and have been able to track back to individuals who abuse these coupons by making photo copies or altering their printers computers to override print limits. Please DO NOT take part in any of these practices.
Coupon Fraud is a punishable crime. The CIC and it’s members have worked on every significant case of coupon fraud with the Federal, State, and Local law enforcement since it’s inception in 1986.
Worst case scenario consequences of 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.
I found the following info to be very helpful from hotcouponworld:
The following are examples of coupon fraud although not a complete list:
- Doing anything to the coupon to modify it or the way the Manfufacturer intended it to print.
- Removing the expiration date, modifying the bar code or the $ value of said coupon.
- Altering codes in the Manfufacturer printing program
- Scanning or Copying 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.