Here are steps you can take to maintain the integrity of your coupon usage and ensure that more deals are always around the corner:
- Do not use photo-copied coupons. Only original coupons clipped or printed from reputable sources are valid.
- Read all restrictions. If a coupon says one per household, you may not use one for each child. If the coupon reads “one per visit,” you must visit the store multiple times—even if it is in the same day—to redeem multiples of that coupon.
- Use coupons only on the product indicated. There are brand, type and size restrictions listed on most coupons.
- Pay attention to limits. You may only use 1 manufacturer coupon and 1 store coupon per item. Some stores impose additional limits on coupon acceptance and/or doubling.
- Be sure to use coupons before their expiration date. Some stores may have policies allowing expired coupon acceptance, but check with the store manager. A coupon redeemed past its expiration date means the store may not be reimbursed for the coupon.
It is important to practice ethical couponing as coupon fraud and misredemption affect consumer pricing for everyone. Any lost revenues will be reflected in price increases with fewer and less beneficial promotions. Stores that are victims of coupon fraud will also tighten their coupon policies and altogether cease promotions that are valuable to smart shoppers.
What are the penalties for coupon fraud?
Penalties for those convicted of coupon fraud related crimes vary by each case and the number of laws violated.
As of this date:
Longest prison sentence: 17 years
Highest financial penalty: $5 million
Prison sentences of three to five years are not uncommon. Financial penalties generally vary, but have often been in excess of $200,000.
Not one defendant has been acquitted in a CIC (Coupon Information Center) related coupon fraud case since operations began in 1986.
You don't want to be a statistic and I'd rather be an ethical couponer than save something on a jar of peanut butter!