Fake coupons: you’ve seen them online. Maybe you’ve even tried to print or share them. Yet at best, you won’t get a discount. At worst, you’ll end up with malware on your computer. How can you tell the difference between a coupon that’s fake and a legit printable online coupon? Here are a few hints.
These tips come from the seasoned deal-hunters over at Rather-Be-Shopping, and will help you identify bogus coupons that you might see on the Web or passed around through e-mail.
It defies common sense. Applying common sense to online couponing is apparently harder than it seems at first glance, but the temptation of getting 50% off everything you buy at Target, Kroger, or whichever fake coupon is circulating this week is simply too great. Before you click, though, ask yourself whether the coupon you’re looking at is an actual thing that a business that wants to make a profit would put online. For most fake coupons we’ve seen, the answer would usually be “no.”
It’s for a free item. Sometimes companies offer free item coupons when they introduce a new product, but they generally are for small items and aren’t circulated online.
It has no expiration date, or a fake one. Does the coupon expire on February 30, or lack an expiration date entirely? That’s a bad sign.
It doesn’t come from the company’s site. Is the coupon on a survey site, and not on some variation of Target.com, or a legitimate coupon site like Coupons.com or Smartsource.com? Run away!
It appears on the CIC blacklist. Yes, there’s a list of fake coupons circulating, and you can find it at the Coupon Information Center. It probably won’t work for the very newest fake coupon that your high school lab partner’s ex-wife just shared on Facebook ten minutes ago, but the list is good for identifying coupons that have been circulating for a while, and it also gives you a sense of what kinds of too-good-to-be-true deals are out there so you can recognize similar ones in the future.
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8 Ways to Spot a Fake Coupon…Everytime [Rather-Be-Shopping]