Beware of Fake Coupons

This post may contain affiliate links. Please see my full disclosure policy for details.

Doesn’t that coupon look incredible?  Too bad it is a fake.  Yep — the fakes look just like one you’d find in your Sunday newspaper.

This coupon is actually being emailed around the internet like crazy right now.  This is fake and should not be used – no matter HOW tempting it may be.  If you use fake coupons, the stores do not get reimbursed.  When this keeps happening, they end up having to cut their losses and not allow printable coupons for free products.  Or even worse – NO printed coupons.

So, how can you tell if a coupon is a fake?  Well,  here are some pretty key giveaways:

1.  Coupons in only .pdf format.  There are some that are real from the manufacturer.  If you aren’t sure if it is real, you can access any legitimate pdf coupon from the manufacturer’s site.

2.  Coupons will NEVER be in word format.  So, if you get an email with a coupon in WORD, delete it and do not use it.

3.  Coupons do not come more than one to a page for the same product in a pdf file for you to print out (such as this Doritos coupon – comes 6 to a page).  Someone had a coupon and scanned it, uploaded it and is sharing it.  Although it may have come from a real source, it is still a fraudulent coupon in the manner it which it is being distributed.

4.  Any product manufactured by Proctor & Gamble will NEVER have a printable coupon.  They don’t offer them.  So, if you see something such as Pampers as a printable, it is a fake.

5.  If it sounds too good to be true, such as a free 12-pack of Pepsi or Coke, it is 9 times out of 10 a fake.  You can receive such coupons, but they will be mailed to you and never available for on-line print.

6.  Avoid Ebay to purchase coupons.  While there are some that are legitimate, many are fraudulent coupons and can not be used.  Save your money and wait until your product goes on sale and use a real coupon.

Here are some that were just sent to me today that are fake.  They are going through email, so if your friend sends them to you, don’t use them and be sure to let them know that they are fake.

FREE Doritos (expires 12/31/10)
FREE Dannon Yogurt (expires 12/31/10)
FREE Velveeta Pasteurized Cheese (no expiration date)
FREE Folgers Coffee (expires ???? illegible date)
FREE Pepsi 12 Pack (expires 12/31/10)
FREE Reynolds Heavy Duty Aluminum Foil, 50 sq ft (no expiration date)

If you are not sure if your coupon is real or not and would like to check for yourself, you can go to to check the most recent list of fake coupons.

So please, if you get these coupons, do not use them.  I just want to reiterated again that fake coupons are the reason we can’t use legitimate B1G1 Free or Free printable coupons at stores today — because of these types that are floating around. 

Oh — one final note — if you do create a fake coupon, you can be prosecuted and face both jail time and fines.  So, it is best to just be honest and stick to using the real coupons.

(Thanks for your email today Christina!)


  1. Christina Osburn says

    Thank you Tracie! I knew if I sent the coupons to you, you would be able to tell us if they are real or not! Thanks for your help today!

    • Tracie says

      Thanks for sharing them with me! I have been meaning to share something about the Doritos one for a while now and you just reminded me….and showed me a few others as well!

  2. Jennifer S says

    I really hate people are making these fake coupons they are making real coupons harder for us to use.

  3. brenda says

    My husband brought home the Doritos page from someone at his work who knows I love to coupon but I thought that something was fishy right away. I did not use them and tossed them but found your post today so interesting. I had no idea that P&G had no printables. I am really glad to read that and will keep my eyes peeled for more fakes. Thanks for taking the time to post your thoughts. My fear is that people will try and scam the system and ruin it for the rest of us. Remember…we are trying to save a buck, not steal a buck!

  4. Ashley Goodrich says

    I was at the CVS downtown the other day and had some printables and the cashier checked them out really well. Apparently they have had a lot of fraudulent coupons there recently. She was very nice about it and I more than understand. I wish people wouldn’t ruin it for others. I get tons of great legitimate coupons off the internet and would be so sad if stores quit taking them.

  5. Robert Roehm says

    Here’s an easy way to spot a fake:

    Look at the UPC bar code. The UPC barcode that scans is the first barcode that contains 10 digits, if there is more than one. If it has more than 2 zero’s in a row, it is most likely a fake – that is usually a code to “enter any value” at the checkstand. Legitimate coupons would not have all those zeroes, it would have a manufacturer’s coupon deal number in there.

    An other user online said that he has seen these coupons at his job, he worked for Pepsi – they were part of “injury coupon packets” for those who have hurt themselves on cans, suffering paper cuts from opening cases, etc. It happens. Perhaps someone got ahold of one uncirculated set, copied the UPCs, removed language referring authenicating watermarks and holograms, gathered the dummy text together with images, and threw out these “booby trap” coupons into the Internet wild.

    It is just sad to see people being a party to ripping off merchants in this fashion.