Fraudulent Coupons? Use Good Judgement.


I received an email from a reader sharing some fraudulent PDF coupons that she received in her inbox, and wanted to share a quick reminder of  a few tips on how to stay away from fraudulent coupons.  (Remember, they really do hurt all of us as couponers!)


  1. If  a coupon looks way too good to be true, it probably is.  Now don’t get me wrong, there are loads of fabulous, simply amazing legitimate coupons out there (anyone remember the $5 off Schick coupons?) However, they are few and far between, and rarely are at or above the retail price of an item.
  2. If a coupon comes to you as a PDF file, be cautious of it’s source.  Some manufacturers choose to promote their products using PDF coupons, however most manufacturers use some form of a coupon printing program (i.e. the one that loads when you print coupons from, to limit the number of coupons each person can print.  This does not mean that all PDF coupons are fraudulent, however make sure to print it from a reputable site (and probably not from an email sent to you that’s been passed around the neighborhood!) 🙂
  3. A coupon is not legitimate just because it scans at the cash register.  As crazy as it seems, very smart people waste their time figuring out how to make bar codes that do scan at the register for the listed discount.  Again, this doesn’t make that coupon legitimate, so just because it works does not make it okay! 
  4. Don’t copy printable coupons.  Ever.  No matter how great the temptation is, do not copy a printable coupon. Manufacturers determine a certain number of allowed prints for each coupon (usually two) allowed to each IP address.  Each coupon that you print from a program like the one used on has a unique code in the top right hand corner, and the manufacturer reserves the right not to reimburse payment to a store on a coupon if that code has been duplicated.  So, copied printable coupons are essentially a form of stealing. . . please (please!) don’t do it!  (However, it is okay to ask for a friend or family member to print you an extra coupon or two on their computer!)
  5. Use reputable coupon sites to print coupons from.  Myself and literally hundreds of other penny-pinching bloggers work really hard to share legitimate deals, however there are sites out there that encourage unethical usage of coupons.  Use good judgement as you determine which sites to follow for coupon information, and if something just feels wrong to use, skip on past that deal.


I’d love to get your input on this one!  There are so many legitimate great deals using coupons, that there really is no reason to sacrifice our integrity for a measely dollar.  Have you seen fraudulent coupons making their rounds on the internet lately?  And do you have any other tips or questions about coupon usage?  Please leave a comment to share, and also check out the Coupon Information Center for more information on fraudulent coupon usage.



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  1. i had a problem with a jcp coupon awhile back. it wouldn’t scan and was told that a lot of those coupons are fake. now i don’t bother with it unless i get them in the mail.

    • Retail coupons are definitely hard to know, because they usually do not use the same printing program that others do! I love the “real” coupons from the mail because there’s no guess work….

  2. I have a friend who works at a Wal-Mart store during the third shift and they said last night two ladies were in there using the $7.00 Crest whitestrip coupons on Crest toothpaste. The overage was put on a Wal-Mart gift card. The first lady had $20.00 overage. The second lady was attempting to use even more coupons for a bigger overage. The register didn’t beep. The cashier called a CSM and the CSM said the coupon didn’t match the product and the lady said they had been to a coupon class and were told they could do this and other Wal-Marts had let them use them. Sorry this was so long, but when I heard this I was so angry!! This sort of coupon fraud only hurts those of us who are trying to do what is right!!

    • Arghhhhh – that makes me so frustrated Faye! I wish people recognized that in the long run they are only hurting themselves…. it’s so frustrating that they totally miss that. I keep hoping that the message will get out there, because I love all the deals and don’t want to lose them because of misuse of coupons 🙁

    • Did you notice the Whitestrips coupon in this months P&G brandsaver was for only $1?

  3. A friend at work recently was telling me about her friend that used $4 off Dr. Pepper coupons at Target. she got 4 12 packs for free. I didn’t want to be Debbie Downer, but was quick to tell her that coupon was a fake. I looked on the CIC website to see if it was on there and guess what…I saw the coupon i had used recently for $1.50 off Skintimate Cream Shave. I think lots of us used that coupon at CVS a couple months ago. It is listed as fraudulent. Browsing through the list, there are many that are obviously fraudulent, but there are some that I wouldn’t have thought twice about using if a blogger had provided a link to it., like the Skintimate Cream shave coupon. There is a post on the CIC website about the FBI arresting a man for making fraudulent coupons and providing an instruction manual for others to do so. I want to keep using my coupons. I sure hope some ignorant people don’t screw it up for all of us!

    • Hi Mary! I noticed a few of those coupons too. What’s so hard is that while myself (and loads of great bloggers!) try very hard to only post legitimate deals, obviously there’s only so much we can do to check out each coupon ourselves. I hope that if people are just aware of what’s out there, they’ll use good judgement as they use coupons. As far as I can tell, coupons printed from legitimate coupon sites (, Red Plum, Smart Source, Coupon Network) are always legitimate, but I even need to remember to watch which links are sent to me more carefully. It’s crazy that we even have to worry about it!

  4. My husband’s new coworker was bragging that she use to walk out of kroger with overage after matching barcodes and using double and triple coupons. Then she had the nerve to say, “I don’t know why they stopped doubling/tripling altogether. That’s just stupid.”
    Unfortuantely, we witnessed a woman at kroger do this. At the time we weren’t sure why all of her coupons were beeping and when the cashier would ask “did you buy this product?” she replied “oh no! ya’ll didn’t have it” and YANKED the coupon from his hands. He didn’t give us the impression that he knew something was wrong. What tipped us off was when she said she spent six hours looking through the ad and matching coupons. Being in a position like that, I wanted to tell her something, but wasn’t sure if that was proper etiquette. My husband told me it was just best to keep our mouths shut, but it still bothers me that I didn’t do anything, but what was I suppose to do?

  5. Alanna Murray Buchina Mcvay says:

    I got an e-mail from a good friend…….this was quite some time ago……had that same Oscar Meyer coupon along with one for Dr. Pepper products and another for Nestles bottled water. Our family used many of them at our local WalMart — as did several friends……we later learned from a CSM at WalMart that the Oscar Meyer and Dr Pepper were indeed REAL mfg. coupons but the one for the bottled water was not. We were a little skeptical too, so before actually shopping with them, I went to customer service desk and asked them to scan them, which they did, and they said yes, they would accept them.

    • It’s so hard – because people can make them look so real! It drove me crazy when those circulated (I had several emailed to me), and I just hate that it ruins it for all of us. Thankful that I haven’t seen too many of them roaming around lately!

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