Coupon Fraud and Preventing Coupon Fraud

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I know this is a touchy subject for many couponers, but I felt the need to write something up to “remind” people that there are plenty of deals out there by using coupons the right way! There is no reason to intentionally use them the wrong way.

The reason I felt the need to remind everyone about this is because of the following situation a couponing friend of mine encountered recently. She was in line behind another “couponer” & ultimately paid very minimal out of pocket. Then as my friend went up to Customer Service for a raincheck, the other couponer from the line came up to Customer Service to get reimbursed for coupons she said she “forgot” to give the cashier (while she was actually turning in duplicate coupons she had already used at the register-my friend saw them as they were used at the register). Customer Service questioned her & said it looked like she had already used those coupons, while she said “those were for other items.” In the end they paid her for those coupons.  (Now I might have spoken up about this at the time it was happening, maybe not, it would depend on the particular situation & if I wanted to get involved.  Either way, what that person was doing was just plain wrong!)

So, last week I mentioned that I could take coupons in at a later date to be reimbursed at Publix (they’ve said within 2 weeks of the transaction). This is something I’ve been able to do for quite some time. When I went in to return my coupons, they did not question me, but they stated that they have been having issues with people turning in duplicate coupons for the same items they were already used on.  They said they have  no way of knowing which coupons were for which items – I completely agreed! How would they know? Plus they will most likely stop accepting them after the transactions due people that do that.

I know I have forgotten to give them some of my coupons, just because I forgot to grab them out of my coupon pouch (especially when I’m at the store with my kids, that’s when I seem to have this problem). I do not encourage anyone to intentionally commit coupon fraud, as we need to be honest couponers, plus you could be punished by a fine or even jail time & the company you’re using them at will most likely not be reimbursed for those coupons. While it is definitely tempting, the coupons were used fraudulently & issues such as this could cause the store to change that policy.

Here is a little more information about coupon fraud & how to prevent it:

*The Coupon Information Corporation describes coupon fraud as anytime a coupon is redeemed for a product that it was not intended for or in any manner that violates the terms and conditions printed on the coupon. Coupon fraud is using an altered or counterfeit coupon. And a retailer can commit coupon fraud by presenting coupons to the company for payment for items that they never sold.

*Read and understand the terms and conditions of each coupon that you plan on using. Every coupon has these printed clearly in the fine print somewhere on the coupon. Some manufacturers such as Proctor and Gamble have made the decision to limit the number of like items and coupons that you can use in one transaction. Trying to purchase more than that limit is a violation of the terms and conditions of the coupon and can be considered coupon fraud.

*Using coupons for a size or product not stated on the coupon is a form of coupon fraud.

*Do not try to turn in coupons for items you know you already used coupons on. Whether they are manufacturer or store coupons. If you couldn’t use them together in the original transaction, then you certainly shouldn’t turn them in to get additional money back.


  1. says

    Thanks for posting this, Mary. I had a hard time at my Publix recently when I brought back some coupons I had left at home (I was shopping with all the kids). They know me well there, and know that I use coupons correctly. There is a new manager from a higher volume store that I had never met and she gave me a really hard time about bringing coupons back. I really wish more people were honest!

  2. Amanda says

    Yes, thank you for posting… I am known at my Publix for forgetting my coupons because I have three kids with me who are usually keeping me pretty busy at the register. One out of every three trips, I have to return to give them a coupon or two that I forgot. It really stinks that people would take advantage of this. I know that I would have definetely said something.. I am one of those outspoken, ‘justice must be served’ gals.

  3. says

    Ive done this so many times, usually bc my 3 kids are holding a coupon as I am checking out and it is forgotten. Id hate fr them to stop doing this bc of dishonest couponers. It wouldnt be fair to the rest of us that follow rules. There are so many great deals out there I dont understand why people need to be greedy and take advantage of it.

  4. Cindy says

    There are a few that are going to make using coupons tough on all of us. The last time I was at Petco, they refused to take my coupon I printed from my computer b/c they said there are too many fraudulent coupons that people are bringing in. There are always people who take advantage of good things & then we all pay the price.

  5. Heidi R. says

    Wow, that is just sad that someone would try to do that. I am sure everyone has forgotten to use a coupon now and then. Myself included. Especially if you are rushed or distracted. But to lie about it to use extras is just wrong, and its stealing. I really hope there are not so many people that are dishonest to end up ruining couponing for everyone else. I always try to be a model couponer and am as pleasant, polite and cooperative as I can be with cashiers, customer service, managers and other customers. I go out of my way to not inconvenience anyone else. Even if I have to speak to a manager because of an issue with a coupon at the register, I do it politely. I think most store employees know who their regulars are, and they know which customers are trying to be honest and follow the rules, and they also know which customers are trying to take advantage.

  6. Kristine says

    Thanks Mary for this post, i usually forget to use my coupon too when I shop with my toddler. My Publix usually scrutinize the receipt and depending on who the clerk is, sometimes they won’t take the forgetten coupon and will ask for the manager. Target itemizes their coupon intake with the merchandise so they know which items already used a coupon. I wonder if we could suggest this to Publix so that people like us who know how coupon properly and honestly won’t get penalized due to fraudulent couponers.
    I have a related question, numerous times at the register when i’m giving them the coupons, they fuss over my coupons and say they can’t take duplicates, and I explain to them that each computer will allow you to print two coupons each. I’ve noticed that all the barcodes are the same, i have 2 computers so i can print 4 coupons for an item, and they all have the same barcodes, and when i buy a bogo deal i use of course 2 coupons 1 for the buy & 1 for the free as you have taught us. My Publix always check the barcodes if they are the same and they always lecture me on I’m not supposed to copy coupons. And I try to explain to them each time this happens that each computer will allow you to print 2 coupons & that I do not copy coupons cuz I know it’s illegal. Same scenario at Target.

  7. Albert says

    Yes I agree with this idiot work as a target cashier and I recently came across this lady who was using legit coupons the wrong way and she knew it too. She was buying a bunch of items and she used about 15 coupons that were about $5 off each. It was too good to be true so I read them all and they were for specific items that she didn’t buy. The total was $200 and if I accepted the coupons it would have been about $80. But rejected about 13 of them and her total was $189 and then she took off all of her things except a couple of things and her total was $30. Once she did that I knew that she was trying to get away with using these coupons wrong. Now I am suspicious of all the people who use a lot of coupons

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