Couponing the right way |

Couponing the right way

Shelley Polansky
Better Business Bureau

Many individuals and families use the Internet to find coupons that will save them money at all of their favorite retailers. The cumulative effect is a savings of $1 billion annually, according to the Coupon Information Corp.

With the digitized age, however, coupons are subject to misuse and fraud. With that in mind, your Better Business Bureau advises the following:

Check out who is offering the coupon: If the coupon is offered by a third party such as a partner or affiliate, use caution. Third parties may ask for additional information or require the consumer to sign up for services to redeem the coupon. If so, the Better Business Bureau recommends using extreme restraint before sharing any personal information. Check out the company, free of charge, at

Verify legitimacy: The Coupon Information Corp. website,, posts counterfeit-coupon alerts that inform about fake coupons making the rounds and how to tell real from fake. Never pay for a coupon from companies or individuals who “sell the service of clipping coupons.” Reselling coupons is illegal.

Be cautious of pop-up offers: Some pop-up coupon ads may automatically sign up the consumer for services they were not interested in receiving, which could result in repeated monthly credit-card charges.

Read the fine print: Read the terms and conditions for the use of the coupon. Check the expiration date, limitations on use and whether it is only good for online purchases.

Will the coupon be honored?: Some stores, concerned about fraud related to online coupons, may not be eager to redeem them. The Better Business Bureau recommends contacting the store where you wish to use the coupon to find out whether a given coupon is being honored.

Be wary of required phone calls: Use extreme caution if a coupon requires you to call the company to redeem it and/or has any requirement to divulge personal information.

For more information on how to be a savvy consumer, go to