When you cut out your weekly coupons, prepare for the sales and then go use them at the store, you are saving money and doing nothing wrong. There are, however, people and groups that print, steal and sell fraudulent coupons to consumers. This can put you at risk for getting into trouble — serious trouble with a business called the CIC, or Coupon Information Corporation.
The CIC is a watchdog that monitors coupon use, coupon reimbursement and coupon fraud. It is in place to protect consumers as well as manufacturers and retailers. Coupon fraud? Let me explain ...
Coupon fraud is something done daily, on a very large scale by people trying to make extra money. They use technology and computerized programs to design and create coupons at high value for popular items in the store. They then turn around and sell these coupons to consumers. If the coupon is for $8.50 off a package of diapers, and you can buy the coupon for $1, technically, you will still save $7.50 off the package. So it sounds great to consumers. However, this is where the fraud comes into play.
If you have this coupon and you use it at the store, they will give you the $8.50 discount. At the end of the month when the store mails in the coupons for reimbursement, they will be notified that it is a fraudulent coupon, and they will not receive any money back. Therefore, they have lost $8.50 on that package of diapers they sold. If that store sold 100 packages of diapers that month, they would be out $850. If 50 stores from that chain sold 100 packages that month, that would be a $42,500 loss that the retailer would not get back.
Can you see how quickly the store loses money? And if they lose that money, they have to recoup it from somewhere, so they raise prices on other things for the consumers. So, we honest couponers pay for fraud in the end.
As a rule, if a coupon looks too good to be true, it probably is. Use your best judgement and get your coupons from reliable legal sources only.
In my monthly class at The Post-Star, I go into detail about using coupons, saving money, finding monthly deals and how they will benefit your family and your pocketbook. There are free giveaways during the class as well. Please join me for my next class at 6 p.m. Wednesday, March 29. Feel free to call 518-742-3309 or go to poststar.com/couponclass.
Head over to my blog, Making Cent$ About Extreme Couponing, to find some great deals around the region this week. Post your questions, comments and deals in the comments section.