It’s Always Fun Until Someone Goes to Jail.

It’s become apparent to me, especially in the last couple of months that couponing is getting more and more difficult as stores are reviewing and changing their coupon policies due to some really greedy morons with extremely bad judgement coupon fraud.

Coupon users across the country are feeling the pinch as stores restrict coupon usage.  Coupon fraud is costing manufacturers millions of dollars each year, and when they lose money, their costs increase and in turn we pay more for the products we want and need…not cool.  Way to go greedy, thefty-type people..nice way to burn it to the ground for the rest of us.

There are lots of different ways coupon fraud is committed.

  • Making copies of a coupon.  When you print an online coupon, you are typically only allowed 2 prints per computer and each bar code has a unique number beneath it.  In order to get more coupons, people are adjusting printer settings and printing unlimited numbers or just plain old photocopying one coupon, that will in turn have the same bar code numbers, which is fraud.
  • Buying items at a greatly discounted rate using coupons, either fraudulent or not, and then returning the item to the store for a store credit at full price.
  • Using coupons to purchase items not intended for use with that coupon.
  • Using a mobile app that encourages users to scan and digitize manufacturers coupons on their smart phones to be shared and used by whomever else downloads the app and can get an unwary clerk to scan it.

Say it with me kids…FRAUD.  PUNISHABLE BY FINES AND JAIL TIME.  Now I don’t know about you, but I look awful in orange.  Not worth it.

Our Bangor stores are on high alert and many are considering refusing any printed coupons and severely limiting the use of others.  This would rot for me because I print 90% of mine.  Here are some ways to avoid even unwittingly getting involved in coupon fraud.

  • Don’t buy coupons from someone selling them.  Print your own, buy the weekend papers, ask family, friends or co-workers to save theirs for you as well.
  •  Don’t download coupons from the internet.  Walgreens just had an issue with coupons that were in their new Diabetes & You booklets that are available to customers in the store.  The booklet contained several high value coupons including one on vitamins that would make them close to free or even get you money back.  (This is called a money maker)  This booklet was also available to download in pdf form on their website, including the coupons.  You can guess where this is going..people printed off dozens and dozens at a time and used them fraudulently to get crazy amounts of cheap and free vitamins AND FREE MONEY TO BOOT that they could then spend on whatever they wanted.  Pretty shifty huh?
  • Don’t trade printable coupons.  This is a tough one, because I do it.  Do as I say, not as I do here. They say don’t trade with people because you’re never going to be sure where that coupon came from, or if it is a copy.  I only trade with a couple of good friends (What up, girls!) who use the exact same sites that I do and when we trade, it’s one or two, not 100 or 200.  If someone on a couponing website or forum wants to trade, I avoid it like the plague.

I’m reading about these changes every day online in different forums.  Stores refusing printable coupons, limiting item numbers and transactions..all really disheartening stuff for someone like me that enjoys it so much, gets so much out of it and does it legally.  The end note here would be this.. be conscientious and educated.   If you’re guilty of coupon fraud, you’ll get caught.  If you buy or trade coupons, buyer beware.  Don’t end up in jail for some free vitamins and a couple of bucks.

Allyson Sorenson

About Allyson Sorenson

Bangor mom. BDN blogger. Volvo lover. Coffee drinker.