Coupon Fraud: How to Identify Coupon Scams

Couponing is a great way to save money on your groceries and keep the costs down when it comes to shopping. However, a number of people who engage in couponing need to be aware of coupon fraud.

Staying on the right side of the law isn’t hard, but some people can even accidentally dip into coupon fraud. Here’s how you can identify common coupon scams.

Common Forms of Coupon Fraud

Definition of Coupon Fraud

According to the Coupon Information Corporation, coupon fraud is defined as follows.

“Whenever someone intentionally uses a coupon for a product that he/she has not purchased or otherwise fails to satisfy the terms and conditions for redemption, when a retailer submits coupons for products they have not sold or that were not properly redeemed by a consumer in connection with a retail purchase; or when coupons are altered/counterfeited.”

It goes without saying, these coupon scams directly contradict laws. Here’s how to spot some of the most common versions of coupon fraud.


Firstly, it’s fraud to copy coupons with a photocopier and then use them as though they’re original. Most coupons won’t scan a second time, though that’s not true of all coupons. However, it’s unlikely that you won’t notice such a coupon, as most printers won’t print a very high-quality copy.

Buying and Selling

Non-transferability is essential to any coupon. If you find a website that is selling coupons or offers to buy your coupons they are likely operating illegally. For general use, coupons aren’t meant to be bought or sold. This goes for pretty much every type of coupon.

This one is harder to catch at the moment, though it’s not likely to cause harm to a given business.

Fake Coupons

The most direct type of coupon fraud is when a scammer simply makes up fake coupons. Often this will include faking barcodes or faking the template of a real coupon. These can be identified by unreal savings, ridiculously lenient restrictions and the like.