Beware of coupons that could be counterfeit

By Gray Hall - bio | email
Posted by Terry Alexander - email

RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Take a close look at that next coupon you clip - it may be a counterfeit. The Frito-Lay Company says the fake coupons are a growing problem, in particular with chips.

It can be quite frustrating when you're at the register and it turns out you'll have to pay for something you thought was free. It's happening to many customers with Doritos in their carts.

If you love Doritos, then a free coupon would probably put a big smile on your face but many customers are ending up with fake coupons.

"First and foremost, there is no company that we know of and certainly not Frito-Lay that ever distributes coupons through email. If you get an email that's a PDF and it is a coupon, you can pretty much bet it's fake," said Aurora Gonzalez, a spokesperson with Frito-Lay.

Doritos lovers are not the only ones being duped. According to Consumer Affairs, someone is sending out counterfeit coupons for Pepsi-Cola, Folgers Coffee and Dannon Yogurt.

"We can't realize any benefit to the creators of the coupon. Right now, it is just duping consumers, duping retailers and just creating a whole lot of frustration," said Gonzalez.

This is not the first time these bogus coupons have popped up. There are some red flags to keep you from making a disappointing trip to the store.

  • The coupons don't require a purchase -- real coupons, almost always require you to buy something for another item to be free.
  • The coupon value is more than what the actual product costs.
  • It has a one-part U-P-C code, real ones have two part codes that can be tracked.
  • It doesn't refer to a specific weight.
  • The mailing address is incorrect.
  • And finally, it just sounds too good to be true.

If the problem continues, Frito-Lay says consumers could see fewer companies issuing coupons.

"One of the things we may have to think about as a manufacturer is do we continue to offer coupons, do we need to limit coupons we give out. Retailers will have to think about do they want to accept coupons," Gonzalez said.

Frito-Lay says a good web site to visit for a look at some of the fake coupons circulating -- is The Coupon Information Corporation web site.

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