Coupon Security Features { Extreme Coupon Education }

Do you know how to tell a legitimate coupon from a fake? Because they don’t tell you everything on reality television we are here to reveal the secrets of Extreme Couponing. TLC’s Extreme Couponing is really not about education it is more about entertainment. Our goal is to educate you and empower you to save money for your family.

This week the Walmart on Greenhurst and 12th in Nampa, Idaho quit taking black and white coupons due to coupon misuse. Maybe this has already happened in your area? If it has not it may be just a matter of time. We do not want any Fab Frugals to misuse coupons so we are going to review the security features of the coupons so you can all be sure to use coupons correctly. Giving couponers a good name is the responsibility of each and every one of us.


That last time I shared this information was in the Coupon Tip Tuesday series. I wrote a post called How to Tell a Fake.  So this is a little review from that post…

Rule 1: Be sure to stick to reputable sites when printing coupons like:, smartsource, and redplum. If you print from a manufacturers website or a bricks coupon link you will be safe as well. We have a more comprehensive list of reputable coupons printing sites here

A few things to looks for on a legitimate coupon from

  1. Product watermark behind the coupon value
  2. Little dots in the expiration date box (yellow in color)
  3. The time and date stamp around the coupon
  4. Unique serial number on the coupon (See “Features that are different” below)
  5. logo and verify logo
Knowing these features come in handy if you have to show your cashier that you did not copy coupons!

A few things that raise a red flag when printing coupons:

  1. Coupons from an email sent to you by a friend and not the manufacturer
  2. Coupons found in a PDF form
  3. Coupons that do not have a print limit
  4. Expiration date that is really, really far out
  5. Coupon that does not have a bar code.
  6. Coupon is for a FREE product {These are rarely printable off the internet normally obtained directly through a manufacturer}
  7. Coupon value is unusually high
This Doritos coupon and the huggies coupon above are coupons that were sent to people by email. They may have been legitimate coupons once, but when people started copying them and emailing them around they became fraudulent.

If you suspect a fraudulent coupon you can check to see if it is listed on the counterfeit coupon list. If the suspicious coupon is not listed and you think it is fake you can report fraudulent coupons here.

Never copy your coupons doing so makes them fraudulent! Learn more about coupon ethics here!


More Coupon Education Resources:


  • Brandi

    Today while I was at the 12th st Walmart, the CSM had some Tide and Iams dog food coupons that were for FREE product. I asked her if she knew that they were fake and she said yes we just found out these are not real, but my cashiers have been taking them not knowing they were fake. She let me look at the coupons and they were exactly like they ones on Extreme Couponing where the guy got like 20-30 free tide. I let her know there were fake Quilted Northern coupons being sold on Ebay as well, and she said thank you we didn’t know about those but I will let my cashiers know to look for them. I don’t want couponing to be taken away, I love my savings and my printed coupons have saved me the most money.

  • Tali

    So all PDF form coupons are not legit?

  • Jessica

    I only print my coupons in black and white because colored ink is so pricey. In doing so, depending on the brand, the item’s picture occasionally does not print in the top left corner on my coupon, but the barcode and everything else remains perfectly intact and scannable. I never actually thought about this until now, but do you think that stores aren’t getting reimbursed for these coupons because of the lack of logo, or if they think that they are fraudulent? I’d hate to start buying colored ink, but I figured I would ask before shelling out the cash. Thanks!

  • Yvonne Bush

    most stores will not take internet printed coupons for a product that is totally free but will take coupons for something like a buy one get one free coupon. I work at Fred Meyer and we will not take a coupon that is internet printed the is just for a free item. We do take ones for free items only if they are from the sunday paper or are sent to you buy the Manufacture. I one day had a person try to use a copied coupon that was originally from a coupon that was in the Sunday inserts.

  • mmmmmmm!

    I have called Huggies for coupons but they won’t send me any telling me so many people did that they had to stop, now I look for printed ones inthe newspaper and keep looking for bargains, I only purchase Huggies wipes and use them in our home, I will never use fraudulent coupons, it is stealing plain and simple, one can do without that baloney in one’s like it ruins it for the companies and they stop printing mfg coupons for those who are honest and buy the newspaper and cut them out..Why be dishonest it just doesn’t work out and makes manufacturers stop printing their coupons, thus rising the costs of their products..Plus working as a grocery clerk to me is like climbing up a mountain in perilous conditions with dishonest people everywhere, no siree bob, don’t don’t don’t do it, if it seems too good to be true it is NOT TRUE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Melody

    I love my couponing. It saves me a lot of money and it’s also fun to do. I love seeing my savings add up when I check out and seeing my total get lower and lower. I wish people would be more honest about using them. I don’t buy coupons over the internet. I have thought about it, but decided not to because of the illegal coupons. You don’t know. I’d rather be on the safe side.

  • Stacy M in OK

    Thank you so much for the info. BTW, manufacturer’s is spelled wrong in Rule #1.

  • Jodi Bradshaw

    it doesnt make sense to not be allowed to have black and white coupons. if someone wanted to really copy them, you just scan and copy on a colored scanner. i print coupons at work where we only have a black and white toner. anyway, its impossible to make copies of coupons because i print off of swagbucks and they suspend your account if you misuse coupons. pretty soon they are going to get rid of ip coupons

  • Linda

    FYI…Recently I had someone take my envelope of coupons out of my grocery cart when I turned to show my husband a card. Sad that we now have to watch for people stealing our coupons.

    • Monica

      That is so sad Linda. Sadly people stealing other peoples coupons has been going on for a while. In fact people have stolen entire binders in the past. It is so disappointing.

  • Mary

    Just another instance that happened to me. I was shopping at our local HyVee store and noticed one heck of a good deal…they had Iowa Pork Chops on sale and just above them were 3 full packs of .50 off coupons on Pork products. I picked up two packages of chops and tore off 2 coupons. When I got home and was looking at my receipt, I realized that I scored 2 chops for less than .90 for both and told my hubby that I was going to go back and buy a couple more packages in the morning. I got up bright and early and headed to the store…lo and behold, ALL the coupons were gone, pad and all. I’m thinking some extreme couponer took the pads and then used them to trade to other folks or sold them. I think this is ripping folks off too….we don’t find many coupons and good values in our little hole in the wall town and when folks take ALL the coupons, they are being greedy, very greedy…I was bummed, to say the least!

    • Monica

      Wow! Taking a whole tear pad of coupons is not okay! We never buy tear pad or peelie coupons on ebay for this very reason. I do not want to support a greedy thief.

      • Chanda Arismendez

        eBay is now looking at all tearpad coupons for sale on eBay and removing those auctions. We need more people to report it.

  • Chanda Arismendez

    I was told by a popular friend of a well-known blogger in a workshop by word of mouth that Target coupons have the same serial number that we CAN copy them. Sure enough, that was true. However, Target reserves the right to limit quantity to four in Keizer, Oregon.

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