Buying Coupons Online is Against the Law!

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.
However …
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:
Federal Bureau of Investigation:
Internal Revenue Service:
U.S. Postal Service: US Postal Inspection Service (USPIS)

TLC is a registered Trademark of Discovery Communications, LLC. You can find their link HERE









  1. 3

    Joe says

    I find it interesting that you post that buying and selling coupons is illegal for all coupons. Nowhere on the CIC’s website does it say such a thing for real coupons. There are references to counterfeit coupons and such, but nowhere is there any such statement that the act of selling or buying legitimate coupons is illegal. They don’t recommend it, but it’s not illegal. Even the FTC won’t state that. All they will say is that it violate the terms and conditions of the company. Akin to voiding your warranty on a product. They do say that the fraud comes when you attempt to use a coupon without purchasing the product itself or in using counterfeit coupons. Funny enough is that in Utah it is legal to do just that in cases (Not purchase the product). There are such things as beer coupons that provide rebates on food if you purchase beer. In Utah and a few other states, the law states that you don’t have to purchase beer to get the rebate. I find your article short sighted and misleading. Below is an actual statement from the CIC’s website on selling coupons.

    From the CIC’s own website FAQ

    Can I sell my extra coupons?

    No, there is no legitimate way to sell your unwanted coupons.

    The sale or transfer of coupons is a violation of virtually all manufacturers’ coupon redemption policies. These policies are generally printed on the coupons or are available from the manufacturer upon request. Any sale or transfer voids the coupon.

    Persons purchasing coupons have often been associated with organized criminal activities. They often purchase the coupons as one aspect of a scheme to defraud the coupon issuers/manufacturers, usually by seeking to redeem coupons without purchasing any products. Individuals selling coupons to such crime rings have been charged with and convicted of criminal violations.

    • 4



      I understand what you’re saying. However, if you read the next paragraph under the one you copied, it states:

      “What about selling “the service of clipping coupons” or an envelope that “just happens to contain coupons”?

      Individuals selling or auctioning coupons often know that such sales and auctions are in violation of the terms and conditions of the coupons. As such, they may include an invalid disclaimer, such as, “I’m selling my time to clip the coupons, not the coupons themselves. Such disclaimers are invalid and do not provide any legal protection to either party. Such obviously invalid disclaimers merely serve to prove that the seller/auctioneer knows that their illicit coupon sales are inappropriate, wrong, and subject to civil and/or criminal penalties, depending on the situation.”

      It stands to reason that if buying and selling coupons violates the terms of the coupons and is subject to civil and/ or CRIMINAL penalties, then it’s against the law. Just because there isn’t a “specific” law stating that it is, doesn’t mean that persons involved in selling or buying coupons wouldn’t be held liable or be prosecuted. Perhaps its up for interpretation. However, this is my interpretation and opinion and I will stand by it for the sake of my readers.

      I was also made aware that Bud Miller (executive director of the CIC) during an interview stated. “You need to use the coupon only within the terms and conditions printed on the coupon. In English and Spanish or whatever the local language is. A coupon is a contract and an offer. You have to follow those terms.”

      I thank you for your comment because it shows you are engaged and I appreciate that!


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