Coupon con cuts consumers' confidence

HOUSTON But scam artists are also looking for an easy buck.

"There is a lot of coupon fraud going on and that really hurts legitimate couponers," said the coupon queen Erin Libranda.

Erin Libranda is an expert super saver. She uses coupons on every single grocery purchase. Lately though, she says some stores are taking a closer look at her coupons and in some cases not accepting them.

"Several stores that I shop at regularly, will stop for a period of time if they know that there is a fraudulent coupon going around," said Libranda.

The questionable coupons are mostly coupons you print from the Internet that's because people are making mass copies and in some cases selling the coupons on eBay.

"And if you happen to have a fake or copied coupons, the stores will look at it and scrutinize it," said Dave Wussow of Target. "The cashier is gonna have to inspect the coupon, whatever it is that the coupon asks for that that's usually what the guest has."

Over at Kroger…

"The coupons that we accept are original coupons, valid and authentic coupons," said Russell Richard of Kroger.

But how can you tell between the real coupons and the phony ones? Here's what you look for:

  • Be sure the coupon you received wasn't emailed in a jpeg or pdf file - that's almost a guarantee it's a fake.
  • Look out for no expiration dates

    "Always look for a date and time stamp on the coupons," Richard said.

    Erin says to look for watermarks on the coupons. Each Internet coupon should have a pin number and bar code. If you have multiples of one coupon be sure each number is different. If it's the same number, it means you have a copy of the original coupon and that's illegal to use.

    Because there are so many fake coupons out there, many stores do not accept certain coupons especially the Internet printables.

    Every store has a different policy. We have a complete list of those coupon policies here.

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