Consumers can legitimately save hundreds of dollars per year on household essentials and special products. Everything from food to toilet tissue and coupon clipping has become as easy as a click of your mouse. However, along with that ease comes risk, says the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
Millions of product coupons are offered online but it’s imperative that consumers know the difference between what’s real and what’s not. Recent reports state that bogus coupons circulating on the internet are worth up to $600 million dollars a year.
“There are scams that impact individual consumers and others where unsuspecting charities get ripped-off,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “Money savers need to do their homework before getting involved in any online offers or “business opportunities” that involve the selling of coupon books or the purchase, selling or transfer of coupons.”
According to the Coupon Information Corporation (CIC), the internet is the key reason for the growth in the use of fake coupons. Previously, they were distributed in newspaper inserts or by mail. Today, they can easily be printed at home. However, because of that, it is more difficult to build in specific security measures.
The BBB offers the following advice on redeeming online coupons:
The BBB is a non-profit, non-governmental organization. It is supported by businesses to protect consumers against scams and other unethical business practices. The group accomplishes this by educating both consumers and businesses, and by highlighting trustworthy businesses. By developing reports and ratings on businesses and charitable organizations, the BBB encourages people to use these as resources and referrals to utilize the free services before making a purchase or donation. The BBB helps resolve buyer/seller complaints through its alternative dispute resolution process. In 2013, the BBB provided more than 22,600,000 instances of service. Over 80 percent of consumer complaints to the BBB were resolved. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois is a member of the international BBB system that services the United States, Canada and Mexico.