For sometime I’ve heard about coupon clipping services where you can buy a high amount of a particular coupon you may need.
For instance, if you knew there would be an awesome deal at your local store on your favorite brand of diapers and saw that a coupon clipping service could sell you as many as you needed for $.10-$.25 each, it would “seemingly” work in your favor to buy them and score a great deal on those diapers.
While I was watching an episode of TLC’S “Extreme Couponing”, one of the ladies they showcased actually spent $70 to buy coupons online.
I’ve also heard of people selling highly popular coupons on Ebay. So I figured it was a legitimate enterprise and really didn’t bat an eye. It seemed like a service that some people would warrant as a good idea and a helpful service. Someone else does all the work in finding them and cutting them..therefore saving you time in the end. Sounds okay right?
The Coupon Information Corporation keeps an updated list of fraudulent coupons.
They have a list of which coupons are floating around out there so you can avoid using them. Counterfeit coupons are nothing new…but with the use of coupons becoming more mainstream it does create an atmosphere where counterfeit coupons can become more of a problem. Whether you are the actual perpetrator or an innocent unknowing user, it’s against the law.
The CIC’s website also states that BUYING and SELLING coupons is against the law too!
So how are people getting away with it if it’s against the law? Well, the websites that sell coupons state that they are not selling the coupons but merely their time for cutting them. This is an invalid disclaimer that doesn’t provide legal protection for either party.The CIC’s website states the following: By even making this statement, this tells us that they already know that what they are doing is inappropriate, wrong, and subject to civil and/or criminal penalties. Coupons being sold on the Internet or by other means may be stolen property or counterfeit. Individuals attempting to use these coupons may be subject to prosecution.
Penalties for those convicted of coupon fraud related crimes vary by each case and the number of laws violated.
As of this date,
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.
Each case is unique and defendants must be considered innocent until proven guilty.
Not one defendant has been acquitted in a CIC related coupon fraud case since operations began in 1986.
That’s a scary thought! As with all things, it seems there is always someone out there trying to take advantage of the system that most of us gladly adhere to. Most of us don’t have devious minds nor do we seek out a way want to scam anyone. Most couponers are more than happy to follow the manufacturers guidelines. We understand that the misuse of coupons only hurts the consumers in the end. It hurts our local stores therefore driving up higher prices.
The coupon counterfeiters could care less how their actions hurt all of us. But WE do!
How can you protect yourself from coupon fraud?
1) NEVER pay for coupons!
2) NEVER sell Coupons!
3) Do not download coupons from Internet forums
4) If a friend e-mails you coupons, especially high value or free product coupons, the coupons are most likely counterfeit.
5) Most manufacturers follow common sense practices about Internet Print-at-Home Coupons, for example, the coupon itself should not be visible on your computer screen
6) Check the counterfeit coupons listed on the CIC’s web site HERE
7) Read all of their Frequently Asked Questions regarding coupons HERE
If you know about a coupon scam, what should you do?
Do NOT confront the individuals involved in the scam.
Keep all your records, including the envelopes of anything associated with the scam that was mailed to you.
Contact the Coupon Information Corporation:
The Coupon Information Corporation
115-D South Saint Asaph Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Communications will be kept confidential.
Contact one of the law enforcement agencies listed below:
Federal Trade Commission: http://www.ftc.gov
Federal Bureau of Investigation: http://www.fbi.gov
Internal Revenue Service: http://www.irs.ustreas.gov
U.S. Postal Service: US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS)
TLC is a registered Trademark of Discovery Communications, LLC. You can find their link HERE