A friend of mine asked me today how to tell if a printed coupon is legitimate. There are actually several different ways to know for sure that coupon you’re about to use is a legitimate coupon, and that the store will be reimbursed for your purchase.
If you are printing coupons for yourself only, you should never need to check that a coupon is valid. If, however, you trade coupons regularly within a coupon trading group or with other couponers this may be of significant use to you.
Note that I strongly advise NOT sharing printable coupons with anyone other than your closest friends. Each coupon printed from your computer/device is tied to your computer. It is how they are able to track how many prints each user has printed – most coupons are limited to TWO “like” coupon prints per computer/device. If these coupons are copied they are no longer valid AND you may lose your coupon printing privileges all together.
I STRONGLY advise you not to give your own printed coupons to someone you DO NOT know and trust. They could make 100 copies and use them all and when checked – they came from your computer, not theirs. While I do believe in the good in most people, you never know what happens to a coupon after it has left your hands.
First, it depends on the printing software being used to print your coupons. Coupons.com coupons can be validated by using the dot bar code in the upper right hand corner of the coupon itself.
Grab a recently printed Coupons.com coupon – or print one off real quick and head over to Veri-Fi, powered by Coupons.com. Enter the dot bar code (as pictured below) and all of the juicy details of the coupon will pop up.
I entered the dot bar code in the image above for giggles, and this is what popped up:
I then entered a valid coupon that I printed. I removed the UPC and EAN code from this picture before posting.
Now, I don’t know that this information will help much when you’re standing in the checkout line – if any help at all – but SmartSource has started including QR codes on their coupons. Scan with a QR code reader and it will tell you if the coupon is valid.
I’m sure you’ve seen QR codes (the black box) just about everywhere lately. If you have a smart phone, you can download the QR code reader application and take a picture of the QR code on the coupon itself. If you need a SmartSource coupon to test, here’s a nice $1/1 ANY Biz product coupon.
Once you print your SmartSource coupon and you have the QR code reader on your phone, take a picture of it. It will automatically open your browser and tell you everything you need to know about the coupon. This is very similar to the Veri-Fi provided by Coupons.com, but obviously more portable.
The majority of printed coupons that I personally print and redeem are powered by Coupons.com, but in the instance that I needed to prove a point, I could take the picture and show them that my SmartSource printed coupon is in fact a legitimate coupon. You could use your phone’s mobile browser to use Veri-Fi in the store, but chances are you won’t have that kind of time while checking out.
Moral of the story? If a coupon looks too good to be true, it probably is. You can visit the Coupon Information Corporation for further information, and you can “like” them on Facebook so that you can be updated when a fraudulent coupon arises.