In economic times and bad, Americans love to save money.
The way many people save is with coupons.
Last year, according to www.couponfollow.com, Americans used physical and digital coupons to save a whopping $4 billion.
They share their money-saving strategies on social media under the name, “Lorenzo Family Deals.”
Nicole and Mike Lorenzo are extreme couponers based in North Attleboro.
“It’s like a high, you know what I mean? Except, you know, you’re saving money,” Nicole said. “I look at coupons as money. So, if you go into the store, even if you save $5, it’s still better than nothing. It’s five extra bucks in your pocket to do something else with it.”
Nicole gets her coupons from traditional legitimate sources: Sunday newspapers, fliers, manufacturers, and retailers.
But there is a dark side to couponing.
Two Taunton women were recently charged with operating an organized counterfeit coupon ring.
Investigators say they produced high-quality fake coupons and then cashed them in at area Stop and Shop supermarkets for months, getting away with $27,000 worth of merchandise.
Bud Miller is the Executive Director of the Coupon Information Center, a nonprofit organization fighting coupon abuse.
He says every year retailers lose an estimated $55 million dollars to fake coupons.
“It’s organized fraud,” Miller said. “The retailers are often the victim on multiple levels.”
Coupons, especially digital coupons, are more popular than ever, but you have to be careful to make sure you’re not getting scammed.
“The problem is, when people see something on social media, they tend to trust it,” Miller said.
But it’s not always easy.
And while many social media codes are perfectly fine, some are not and could land you in legal trouble.
Here are some general tips to avoid fake coupons.
- Never buy coupons.
- Don’t download coupons from social media groups.
- Avoid unrealistically generous coupons.
You just have to make sure your real savings come from real coupons.
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