How to Catch a Counterfeit Coupon

November 3, 2017

By: Laura Strange
VP of Industry Relations, Communications and Marketing

For many, the fall is a time to settle back into a routine of everyday life. Kids go back to school and summer travels come to an end, which means shoppers are in stores more regularly. As preparation for the holidays will soon be upon us, many begin to look for deals and savings, which can be a win-win for both the customer and the store. While coupons are a great promotional tool to deliver customers with savings, unfortunately, coupons can sometimes be subject to misuse and fraud. Below are some best practices from the Coupon Information Center (CIC) to help retailers spot a counterfeit coupon.


  • All valid coupons should be presented to the cashier at the time of checkout.
  • Accept only coupons that scan accurately at the register.
  • Do not accept expired coupons.
  • Coupons or their face value cannot be exchanged for cash or gift cards.
  • Do not accept coupons for items not carried in our stores.
  • The number of manufacturer coupons may not exceed the number of items in the transaction.
  • The total value of the coupons may not exceed the value of the transaction.
  • The use of 40 or more coupons per transaction, a transaction involving more than $100 in coupons, or coupons totaling more than 20% of the gross sales price will require approval by Customer Service Manager.
  • Any applicable sales tax must be paid by the consumer.
  • Stores may reserve the right to reject any coupon or to limit the number of coupons being used in a transaction.


  • Check for the CIC Hologram when Free Product coupons with no purchase requirements are presented. (ie, Buy One, Get One Free coupons generally don’t feature the CIC Hologram)


  • Accept a manufacturer coupon for an item that is on sale.


  • BOGO coupons cannot be “chained” (i.e., you cannot use two BOGO coupons on two items and get both for free). Unless stated otherwise on the coupon, the use of one Buy One Get One Free coupon requires that two of the valid items are presented at checkout of which one item will be charged to the consumer and the 2nd item will be discounted by its full retail price.
  • A second cents-off coupon cannot be counted towards the purchase price of the first product.


  • Reject coupons if they appear to be copied, distorted, blurry, or altered.
  • Work with the appropriate law enforcement authorities to prosecute individuals using counterfeit coupons.
  • Monitor the Coupon Information Corporation web site for announcements of new counterfeit coupons.


  • In the event a consumer returns a product purchased with a coupon, the value of the coupon will be retained by store so the funds can be refunded to the manufacturer. The coupon will not be returned to the consumer.

For more information on these best practices for retailers or tips to fighting counterfeit coupons, visit: