I learned a hard lesson about counterfeit coupons several years ago. I don’t recall the source of the coupon, but I had printed an internet coupon good for a free rental at Blockbuster Video. It did not even occur to me that the coupon might be a fraud.
My then teenaged son and his girlfriend were going to Blockbuster to pick out some movies to watch. I suddenly felt generous. “Here,” I said, “you can have my coupon. Get yourself a free movie rental.” They were thrilled.
They were not so thrilled when they tried to rent the movie with my coupon. The coupon was rejected. To make matters worse, the manager pulled them aside and accused them of creating the coupon themselves and trying to commit fraud at the store. He even mentioned that he should call the police.
They were shaken. I was mortified. I still cringe when I think of it.
Since then, I have been overly cautious about printing coupons from the internet. For the most part, I only print coupons from trusted sites like SmartSource.com , ValPak.com and CoolSavings.com, as well as directly from a product’s company website, such as BirdsEye.com or Purina.com.
How do you know if a coupon is counterfeit or legitimate?
There is a website, that if I had know about it back then, might have shown me that the coupon I had was a fraud. The site is the CouponInformation Center.com.
Try visiting the Coupon Information Center and looking up your coupon. If it is listed on the list at the Coupon Information Center www.couponinformationcenter.com then you can save yourself a dose of mortification and throw it away.
Or better yet, if you report the source of your counterfeit coupon to the Coupon Information Center (CIC) and your tip leads to the prosecution of the coupon counterfeiters, you just might be eligible for a $2500.00 reward. (Details on the CIC website.)
Imagine that. $2500.00.
Currently, the site is listing, among others, these counterfeit coupons:
- Campbell Soup, Pepperidge Farm $4.50 coupon
- PepsiCo, Quaker, $2.00 coupon
- PepsiCo, Starbucks, $2.00 coupon
- PepsiCo, Pepsi, $5.00 coupon
- Nestle, Digiorno, $6.75 coupon
- Nestle, Haagen-Daz, one Free
- and at least a few hundred more
Each counterfeit coupon listing has a Download PSA listing with a picture and description of the counterfeit coupon plus information on their (up to) $2500 reward system for helping to find and prosecute the person producing the coupon.
So if you get a coupon that seems to good to be true, first visit the Coupon Information Center site and see if they have it listed. If they do have it listed as a counterfeit, consider reporting the source of your coupon to the CIC. Then toss the coupon.
If the coupon is not listed, you still can’t be sure it is legitimate. To try to verify it, try visiting the product’s website to see if your coupon is being offered there. You might also try visiting some of the major coupon distributing sites to see if they are offering the coupon. You can even try googling it to see what you can unearth on it.
If you still are unable to verify the coupon, I would contact the product’s company customer service center and ask them if your coupon is legitimate.
I would not take any chances on a questionable coupon that you cannot verify. Tossing it could save you from some extreme embarrassment.
How about you? Have you ever come across a counterfeit coupon?
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