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Scam Alert

Getting Clipped by Coupons

Using counterfeit coupons could cost you

Bogus coupon or not?

  • If it’s free, then flee. “There are no legitimate offers for free products, without any purchase, that can be printed from a home computer,” says Miller. Authentic online freebies require you to sign up, and the manufacturer then mails the coupon to you. But real buy-one, get-one free coupons and those promising a percentage or specific amount off can be printed online.

  • If a coupon is displayed onscreen as an image, it’s usually counterfeit or unauthorized. Manufacturers avoid showing actual coupons to prevent their replication.

  • Legitimate coupons always list an expiration date, and typically a specific product size. This info is often absent in fakes.

  • For real print-and-use savings, stick to offers at manufacturers’ websites or reputable coupon sites such as www.coupons.com, www.coolsavings.com and www.couponmom.com. Unless you have previously enrolled at a website to get coupon offers, don’t click on any e-mailed offers you receive.

  • If you wonder if a particular coupon is real, go to a page on the Coupon Information Corporation site where you can see images of phony coupons.

Sid Kirchheimer is author of
Scam-Proof Your Life, published by AARP Books/Sterling.

You may also like: How to spot a fake check. >>

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