Saturday, January 23, 2010

What You Need to Know about Recent Printable Counterfeit Coupons

A group of counterfeiters recently used the SmartSource printable coupon format to create as many as 70 different fraudulent coupons and circulate them via email. Most of these high-value coupons have an expiration date of 12/31/10 and would make items free when redeemed. There are currently NO coupons on that you can print with long expiration dates, as printable coupons usually expire within 30 days. You can view the list of coupons here.

In response, SmartSource has implemented a number of changes, including:
  • Creating a new watermark and template (the previously-used format has been discontinued)
  • Additional security features and anti-counterfeiting measures

Many of us may still be in possession of valid SmartSource printable coupons with the old format. These will expire over the next month and hopefully printable coupon acceptance can return to some sort of normal (if there is such a thing!).

  1. Print only from legitimate coupon sites., Redplum and SmartSource are all valid printable coupon websites (along with most manufacturer websites). You are allowed to print 2 copies of each coupon (or less) per computer and are never allowed to scan or photocopy coupons. Each printable coupon has a unique ID tag that can be traced back to your computer.

  2. Know the origin of your coupons.
    Counterfeiters have been known to "
    claim ignorance and say that they just got the coupon off the internet." If you present a legitimate printable coupon and it is questioned by your cashier, be prepared to explain exactly where it originated ( or, for example). If you are ever receive a printable coupon as a pdf file via email, report it to the CIC immediately. Coupons simply aren't shared that way!

  3. Understand that cashiers are growing uneasy about printable coupons.
    This incident, and many others like it, have caused many stores to tighten regulations on printable coupon policies (Kroger, for example, will not accept printable coupons at high values or for free items - you can view their
    printable coupon policy here). If your cashier calls for a manager, references files for pictures of fraudulent coupons or questions your coupon in any way, try to understand that he/she is simply trying to do his/her job. Cashiers may be instructed to deny questionable coupons or ask for photo ID. Be as courteous as possible!
This information isn't intended to scare you away from ever using printable coupons again, but simply to educate you in what's happening currently in the world of coupons. You can visit The Coupon Information Corporation (CIC) for additional information about fraudulent coupons.

From the
SmartSource website:
SmartSource printable coupons should be redeemable at any store that accepts regular coupons -- after all, we're the same company that puts those regular coupons in the Sunday paper! News America Marketing has relationships with most retail chains who understand this. Unfortunately, sometimes local store managers make their own policies. If a store manager does not accept our coupons, please present this letter which explains how SmartSource is a leading provider of valid printable coupons.


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