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Is your coupon a fake?

Is your coupon a fake?

(Scams, Credit and Money Matters) Permanent link


Fake online coupons are becoming a growing problem, shortchanging both shoppers and businesses.

The Seattle Times reported today that phony coupons for groceries and toiletries are being circulated in an Internet marketing fiasco.

"(A) San Jose, Calif., company that created the coupons said it was victimized by computer hackers who tapped into a company database and stole images of coupons the company planned to use in sales pitches to major manufacturers. Those images, as well as coupons offered through the marketing test, were copied in a form that allows them to be circulated and 'clipped' by anyone with e-mail and a printer," the article states.

The nonprofit Coupon Information Corporation estimates stores could be losing a half billion a year due to fraudulent coupons. ABC News reports that some stores no longer accept printable coupons because of concerns about counterfeits.

So how do you spot a fake? Clues include no redemption date or a missing barcode. And consider the source -- if it’s being passed around by personal e-mail, it may be worthless. Legitimate coupons generally can’t be e-mailed.

When searching for coupons online, look for special software to download that can ensure bar codes are printed correctly, and only print coupons from a brand’s Web site or other reputable sites. News reports suggest trying,,, (UPDATE: Those last two sites appear to be programs to help businesses create coupons; I didn't find any printable coupons there.)

The CIC posts a list of known fake coupons – and offers rewards for information leading to the arrest of those who created them.

Talk about it: Have you had any trouble redeeming printable coupons? Does your business accept them?


Posted by AGO Blog Moderator at 05/22/2009 11:50:27 AM | 

Being able to spot fake coupons is somewhat akin to noticing whether or not the website in question is suspect. Be web-savvy and understand what spammy websites look like and also especially what deliberately phishing websites are. Check the URL of the page is a high level and not some script generated rubbish, note if any other content on the page is relevent and informative or just auto-generated garbage.
Posted by: Justin from infopatio ( Email ) at 9/7/2008 11:32 PM

Yeah, coupons with missing barcode labels are often a good sign that they're counterfeit. At the store I used to work at, people used to print them out with the barcodes all the time. Make sure they have the label, which is becoming more and more important <a href="">retail stores</a> for verification purposes.
Posted by: Cassie McKenna ( Email ) at 9/29/2008 1:03 PM

Received a coupon that directed to me a site, for $250 in free gas. It looks like that there interpretation of free gas is for me to spend $100 each month and that they would mail me a $25 gas coupon. But before I could start I would need to send them $5. There is no phone number for a contact. I was wondering if this site is a scam.
Posted by: g fix ( Email ) at 10/13/2008 5:46 PM

I’m not familiar or the program. It may or may not be legit. Assuming it is, you apparently still need to spend money before you receive your “free” gas. And the terms on the Web site imply that you need to spend at least $100 a month with the same brand (eg: Chevron, Exxon, etc.)

If you search Google, you will find several consumer comments about the site.

Posted by: Kristin Alexander ( Email ) at 10/16/2008 5:00 PM

We work really closely with the Coupon Information Center on our forum called By having them monitor our board closely, we can assure that we are doing everything to stop counterfiet coupons.
Posted by: Coupon Queen ( Email ) at 10/17/2008 11:45 PM

If you are commenting about gas vouchers, please see our Nov. 3, 2008, post: "Free gas vouchers leave consumers fuming" and post your comment there instead.

Future comments related to gas vouchers will be moved to that thread.
Posted by: Kristin Alexander ( Email | Visit ) at 11/3/2008 2:46 PM

Thanks for the heads up. I'm constantly looking for coupons on the net and I don't want to be feeding my readers fake coupons.
Posted by: Natalie ( Email ) at 11/18/2008 12:58 AM

I received an email with two free coupons, one if for Reynolds Wrap, heavy duty ; 50ft; the other is for Velvetta Cheese; 1lb box, Are these coupons good? [Hi Debbie -- Can't say based on this. Suggest you check the resources listed in our Web site. Thanks, Kristin]
Posted by: Debbie ( Email ) at 5/15/2009 12:40 PM

A manager at CVS told me that a coupon is bogus if it has CMS printed on it. Is this true? I have printed several coupons that had CMS on them
Posted by: Dee Dee ( Email ) at 2/18/2010 12:59 PM

i work at stop and shop in CT and i see counterfit coupons there is a free 12-case of pepsi that i haven't seen on any fraud lists. the few customers i spoke to had no idea and one said and office worker handed 20 or more out at her job. pepsi is 5.49 a case plus deposit at Stop and Shop.
Posted by: Jamie ( Email ) at 6/23/2010 9:28 AM

Thanks for this great article about fake coupons...I agree with you completely...What I feel is that there is no proper communication from major stores regarding coupons...That is the reason for such fake coupons!!
Posted by: Simon ( Email ) at 8/1/2011 12:39 AM

We work really closely with the Coupon Information Center on our forum. By having them monitor our board closely, we can assure that we are doing everything to stop counterfiet coupons.
Posted by: Simon ( Email ) at 8/1/2011 12:39 AM

ebay seller lazyreptile is selling fake huggies coupons on ebay for free box of dipaers!
Posted by: michelle ( Email ) at 8/6/2011 6:13 PM

A Walgreens branch is telling me they won't accept coupons that are missing yellow dots that cross the expiration date on home printed coupons. "If there are no circles, we can't accept them." I don't have a color printer but they assure me grey scale settings will print the circles. Circles still don't appear. My coupon source is So are all coupons from fake, or is Walgreens overreacting?
Posted by: H ( Email ) at 9/28/2011 12:53 PM

the real coupons suppose to have gold dots and if it says free it is fake and if it is 5 dollars or more it is probably fake
Posted by: sara ( Email ) at 5/24/2012 8:19 PM

We see more news on coupons these days than we see on the state of our national economy, and I am sure that coupons are not even close to causing that problem. I recently retired after 35 years in the retail business and I still think that coupons are the worst thing that has ever happened to the consumer. If manufactures offered all their products to the retailers at real costs and not inflated prices, retailers could offer the consumer real low and discounted prices in lieu of coupons. Manufacturers pay newspapers and magazine companies to print their coupons and therefore we end up buying them to be able to utilize these coupons. COUPONS ALL STATE THAT IN ORDER TO BE VALID, YOU CAN NOT BUY, SELL, GIVE, TRADE, COPY etc. a coupon for it to be valid. The manufacture themselves are violating their own rules by paying companies to print and sell these coupons to you through newspapers, magazines, and through companies that require you to provide a service to them in return for coupons. Plus, if you want the better coupons, you have to provide extensive services or buy the more expensive magazines. These are simply just another Advertizement vehicle. I will agree that coupons make people smile at the register when they redeem them, but this can also be a buyer beware. Manufacture coupons are used widely to control inventory such as when items are soon going out of date, or excessive inventory in warehouses, or when there is going to be a package re-size or re-design happening and for sure a smaller package resulting in a higher price. By now, all consumers are so scared to use a coupon because with all the media pertaining to coupons, they all seem to be counterfeit. To me counterfeit is something that is created as an exact equal, and for that there has to be an original, and I do not think just anyone can create a coupon, and with a bar code that can reverse a dollar amount on any register transaction. This would have to be done by a company that deals strictly with bar codes. Now copies of coupons is another issue, but original coupons are created with so much copy protection that is is almost impossible to make a good enough copy that would actually work and that the bar code will actually scan as the bar code would not be clear enough to scan. Now the Butterball turkey coupons that are being shown on the internet just look like copies to me and not counterfeit as the background on those coupons do not show water mark design as the coupon itself states. Now if the manufacture has NEVER issued a $10.00 Butterball Turkey consumer coupon, they should just say so, then we would all realize that any $10.00 Butterball Turkey coupon out their would be a counterfeit.
Posted by: Raul ( Email ) at 8/14/2012 2:24 PM

Greetings! Very helpful advice within this article!
It’s the little changes that produce the most significant changes. Thanks a lot for sharing!
Posted by: Ana Jackson ( Email ) at 5/30/2013 3:14 AM

I have never had a store tell me a coupon was not any good. With so many being available to print from the computer how do we really know if they are good or not? [ALL CONSUMING MODERATOR'S RESPONSE: Generally merchants will only decline coupons that are expired or have obviously been tampered with. We will need some additional information from you on this question. Please contact the Consumer Resource Center at (800) 551-4636 between 10:00 am to 3:00 pm Monday to Friday.]
Posted by: Amelia ( Email ) at 6/12/2013 12:22 PM

Thanks for the tips. I can't understand why anyone would go to the trouble of circulating fake coupons just to influence businesses. Where is the benefit?!
Posted by: Russell ( Email | Visit ) at 9/23/2013 1:18 PM

Thanks alot for the heads up.

I'm constantly looking for coupons on the net and I don't want to be feeding my readers fake coupons.
Posted by: amazon discount codes 2013 ( Email ) at 10/21/2013 7:54 PM

thanks for your post! i used to coupons code at, And now, i have much choice for me! Thanks
Posted by: Kim Pham ( Email | Visit ) at 10/22/2013 1:41 AM

Thank you for the share, great info
Posted by: Serg ( Email | Visit ) at 12/1/2013 6:58 AM

To avoid fake coupons and provide quality and valid coupons, we could implement the following basis steps:
1. Collect coupons through direct communication from the merchants
2. Coupons approved from the merchant through the affiliate network
3. Manually tested for valid coupons
4. On clicking the coupon codes, it would land directly to the merchant website to be used.

It would be great if anyone can share more valid methods to publish genuine coupons.
Posted by: Cole West ( Email ) at 1/29/2014 3:00 AM

one more point need to be added is that it would be better to clearly mark the expired and not working coupons to avoid inappropriate distribution.
Posted by: Cole West ( Email ) at 1/30/2014 10:39 PM

Thanks for sharing the information. This is very unethical on part of the people who did it. How would people trust websites and give out their personal info such as credit card numbers, etc? These websites must employ highly qualified security personnel to ensure privacy of their customers.
Posted by: Harry Cosy ( Email ) at 2/18/2014 10:58 AM

It is true that there are numerous coupon sites growing every month but not all sites provide genuine information on coupons. Some may not find time to update them on a timely manner.
Posted by: Stephen Brian ( Email ) at 2/19/2014 2:01 AM

Immediately after study a couple of of the blog posts on your website now, and I truly like your way of blogging. I bookmarked it to my bookmark web page list and might be checking back soon.
Posted by: alltimeprint ( Email ) at 2/24/2014 12:59 AM

Thanks for the tips. I can't understand why anyone would go to the trouble of circulating fake coupons just to influence businesses. Where is the benefit?!
Posted by: alltimeprint ( Email ) at 2/24/2014 1:00 AM

We at CouponDaddy make extremely certain that all the coupons listed on the website are 100% working. We try them first and them post it on our website. Companies which try to fake their own customers are certainly not going to go anywhere. It'd be just matter of time when they're caught doing so and punished for that. I hope our law has something for this as well.
Posted by: Mathew Pareira ( Email ) at 3/22/2014 4:47 PM

This is problem when people shop at untrusted sites. Isn't is similar to the famous nigerian scam? I still remember back in old days I used to get emails from nigerian asking me to deposit money into their bank account and after that is done they will deposit a huge chunk of money into account, which of course would never happen.

The way to curb this menace is only shop at trusted places. Also as far as i know coupon sites don't ask for money, they only act as affiliates of bigger sites.
Posted by: Abi ( Email ) at 5/24/2014 12:03 AM

Almost all digital coupon codes are provided by the retailer themselves, however the vast majority of content on coupon site are deals and sales.
Posted by: Buzz ( Email ) at 7/3/2014 4:12 AM

Well I am so excited that I have found your post because I have been searching for some information on this for almost three hours! You've helped me a lot indeed and by reading this article I have found many new and useful information about this...
Posted by: hrv ( Email ) at 7/8/2014 1:37 AM

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