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What Should Retailers Do About Counterfeit Coupons?

Someone has to pay for counterfeit coupons—your store, the manufacturer or maybe even you if you are the store owner. Regardless, it is a dead loss.

The Problem

Counterfeit coupons are a major challenge for the industry. Simply put, counterfeits are fake coupons. The quality of counterfeits varies widely, from obvious fakes to some with very skilled printing. Most fakes currently in circulation are for free products or high values and are produced on home/office equipment. A widely distributed counterfeit coupon can cause losses of hundreds of thousands of dollars (or more) and can strip your shelves of product, preventing honest consumers from purchasing the product.

Manufacturers, retailers, coupon processors, and law enforcement agencies are all active in the fight against counterfeit coupons. However, while you have the support of literally thousands of people throughout the industry, as a cashier, you play a critical role in this fight. Indeed, you play many roles:

  1. Diplomat: Customer Service is your #1 responsibility. Never embarrass or get into a confrontation with a guest at your store.
  2. Reporter: Gather the facts, the evidence, especially the possible counterfeits, and report the information to your management.
  3. Responsible Citizen: Counterfeit coupons hurt everyone, including your community, your store, the manufacturers, honest consumers, your friends and neighbors. Please keep a sharp eye out for them.

Simply put, if a counterfeit is accepted at the point of sale, someone is going to pay for it—your store, the manufacturer or maybe even you if you’re also the store owner. Regardless of who pays, it is a dead loss.

here are a few tips to help you fight counterfeit coupons:

  1. Click on Counterfeit Notifications for the latest updates on counterfeit coupons being circulated. We often offer rewards for information leading to the arrest of coupon counterfeiters. (The person actually making the counterfeit coupons, not just someone who, perhaps unwittingly, uses one).
    Not only can you be a hero at your store, you could earn a reward of up to $2,500 under certain circumstances. (The terms of reward offers are posted with respect to specific counterfeits from time to time).
  2. Pay special attention to "Free Product" or high value ($5.00 and up) coupons:
    • Many Free and High Value Coupons have the CIC Security Device (similar to a hologram) over the expiration date. See a demonstration here.
    • There are few, if any, legitimate free product coupons that can be printed on home equipment.
    • Monitor the self-scans closely.

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