BBB Warns Consumers about Fraudulent Online Coupons

August 18, 2014

The Better Business Bureau is warning consumers about counterfeit online coupons, which have caused an estimated $6 million in annual losses nationwide.

The Coupon Information Corporation (CIC) cites the internet as one reason why it has become difficult for manufacturers and retailers to build security measures to combat fraudulent coupons.

According to the CIC, the internet is the key reason for the growth in the use of fake coupons because they can easily be printed at home.

According to the BBB, consumers can unwillingly get stuck in the middle between retailers and coupon sites with coupons that are phony or worthless, or require personal information to obtain them from the fraudulent sources.

The BBB offers the following advice for consumers who redeem online coupons:

  • Find out who is offering the coupon: Check to see if the coupon is being offered directly by the store or a third-party, such as a partner or affiliate. If it is via a third-party, take caution if the third-party asks for additional information or requires a sign-up for services in order to redeem the coupon.
  • Be cautious of pop-up offers: The BBB advises coupon clickers to be wary of pop-up ad coupon offers that require immediate clicks to redeem. Clicking on the ad may automatically sign up the consumer for services they were not interested in receiving, resulting in repeated monthly credit card charges.
  • Read the fine print: Carefully read the terms and conditions for the use of the coupon. Check the expiration date, limitations on use and whether it is good only for online purchases or if it also can be redeemed at the physical store location. 
  • Be wary of required phone calls: Be extremely careful if a coupon requires you to call the company to redeem it and/or has any requirement to divulge personal information.

According the BBB’s press release, the CIC also advises consumers to never pay for a coupon from companies or individuals who “sell the service of clipping coupons” — reselling coupons is illegal.

The BBB warns consumers that “such websites deny that they are selling coupons, but rather selling a service, covering costs of clipping managing and mailing coupons.”