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What is Coupon Misuse and What does it do to couponing?

Updated: Aug 23



You will hear a lot about people speaking of coupon misuse in the coupon community, but what does it mean? when an individual - customer, vendor or a partner agency takes advantage of a promotion, abusing the Coupon Policy.

OK! SO what does this mean exactly? You coupon is like a contact. The coupon itself STATES ALL THE IMPORTANT INFORMATION. This is called the terms and agreement. You as the consumer must be responsible on your end to read the coupon thoroughly, understand, and abide by these terms. When you use the coupon, you are cosigning that you are using the coupon the way it was meant to be used. NOW, let's get into the crumbs of this. What does this mean exactly? Need a guide to reading coupons? GO HERE.

Using a coupon on sizes excluded on the coupon such as trial/travel.

Using a coupon on an item not intended on the coupon, such as laundry detergent on dish soap.

Copying coupons, HUGE NO-NO and one of the biggest ways to get in trouble.

Here are some other examples


Unintentional Coupon Fraud

While there have been several cases of people receiving lengthy prison sentences and facing financial penalties for committing coupon fraud on a large scale, everyday couponers can unintentionally become involved in coupon fraud.


Responsible coupon users can avoid fraud accusations by understanding the most common terms of using coupons and by learning common ways coupon usage becomes fraudulent:


Copying Coupons

Making multiple copies of coupons is considered counterfeiting, and it is against the law. When using online coupon sites that offer printable coupons, the number of times that coupons can be printed is posted on the websites, and it is important to stick to the rules.


Printing more than the allotted number of a single coupon or making photocopies of a coupon is illegal.




Decoding Coupons

Coupons have terms of usage which include information about the products included in the discount, and it is the responsibility of the couponer to abide by the terms. This can include not only the name of the products, but also the size, color or other specifics.


On the program Extreme Couponing, some of the original couponers that were featured decoded coupons by using them for products that extended beyond those listed on the coupons. Although the coupons were scanned and accepted during checkout, some of the couponers knowingly broke the usage agreements.


Spotting Fake Coupons

Couponers can help protect this invaluable way of saving money by being alert and by helping curtail the distribution and use of fake coupons. There are certain industry standards that almost all coupons follow. Those that do not meet the following standards are often found to be fakes.


Coupons that are for more than the actual price of an item.

Coupons without bar codes.

Coupons where a purchase is not required to redeem the coupon.

Coupons that do not have conditions of usage in small print.

A good source for finding out which fake coupons are being circulated is to check The Coupon Information Corporation (CIC), which maintains an updated list online of counterfeit coupons. It is also a good source for reporting a coupon that you think could be a fake.


Using coupons is a popular and easy way for shoppers to cut the cost of groceries, personal care items and other household products, but couponing is not without its rules and regulations. It is important for couponers to understand the guidelines and stay within the legal boundaries when using coupons. Failure to do so could result in coupon fraud, which can lead to criminal charges.



Most of the "coupon fraud" charges have come from large rings of people manufacturing fake coupons and selling them. As there have been a lot of insentiences of couponers being charged with theft by deception by local municipalities being called on ny local retailers. I have actually seen for myself our local Target shut down a register after a couponer has left and take a copy of the receipt and keep it on file while AP, Asset Protection, keeps a file to add up to a certain amount to file charges. As it may seem simple to you, imagine being arrested because you used that $3.00 Tide coupon on a small pack and now you have to explain to your family and children? Is it worth it? There are so many legit deals that can be done to save a ton of money without being featured on the next episode of Orange Is The New Black.


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