Try this for an embarrassing situation; You?ve got a cartload full of groceries, clothing or what have you as you finally reach the checkout counter. Proud to be a wise shopper, you hand over a handful of coupons, only to find some are entirely useless counterfeits.
Boy is your face red.
There?s an easy solution; Just learn how to tell real from fake coupons and you?re back on the path to savings. The Coupon Information Center offers a couple tips for avoiding fake coupons, but there are some pretty crafty artists out there. Despite quality artwork, counterfeit coupons do have identifiable flaws.
To put it in terms Jeff Foxworthy would understand, your coupon may be counterfeit if:
It Has a Long Fuse
Most coupons expire in a maximum of two to three months. Those with a longer or no expiration date should make you think twice.
It Includes Free Stuff
If you?re going to create a fake coupon, why not go for broke and make it no-purchase-required. The occasional free-stuff coupon does exist, but they?re pretty rare.
It?s Available to You For a Price
Not everyone agrees that buying coupons is a bad thing, but ultimately the non-transferable nature of legitimate coupons makes this practice a bit suspect. Avoid paying for something you can get for free by searching reputable deal sites like FreeShipping.org for coupons to your favorite retailers.
It?s Too Good To Be True
As they say, if you?re going to go…go big! Coupons good for over $5 or 50 percent are rarely real. Just ask the Pennsylvania State Police, who arrested a young woman recently for purchasing over $3,000 in items from Walgreens using fake coupons.
It Has Weird Legal Copy
Fakers may forget to include the mumbo-jumbo legal copy, or use nonsense terminology.
It Has Bar Code Issues
No bar code should be a big ol? red light.
It Contains Typos
Sure marketers occasionally make mistakes, but a lot of proofreading goes on before a real coupon hits the bricks. Fraudsters are less likely to be sticklers for perfection.
It?s Printed On Suspicious Paper
More than half of coupons redeemed in this country are clipped from Sunday newspaper inserts. Counterfeiters tend to overlook this major factor and not mimic the proper paper style.
It Contains Inconsistent Values
Counterfeiters often alter real coupons, meaning they sometimes forget to change the face value in all the places it?s listed.
Image source: Julie & Heidi via Wikimedia Commons