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How to spot fake coupons

How to spot fake coupons

Credit: Frito-Lay

by Terri Gruca

Bio | Email | Follow: @TerriG_KVUE


Posted on June 14, 2010 at 9:11 AM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 30 at 9:48 AM

We all love a good coupon and the internet has certainly made it easier to cash in on the savings. However, it’s also made it easier than ever to get duped by fakes.

From Facebook to e-mail more coupon fakes are circulating than ever before. Some of the more recent schemes include free gift cards for signing up to be Facebook fans of particular restaurants. Don’t fall for it. Those links are typically after your e-mail address.

ConsumerAffairs.com says there’s a new coupon scheme circulating the internet right now that’s being sent to people’s e-mail inboxes. It’s a coupon for free chips and soda. But it’s not legit.

According to the consumer web site:

“We’re hearing from people nationwide,” said Frito-Lay spokeswoman, Aurora Gonzalez. Frito-Lay and Pepsi-Cola are sister companies under the PepsiCo corporation umbrella. “This has gone viral. It’s being passed around in e-mails and we’re seeing it spread in a way we’ve not seen before.”

The company, however, has seen similar types of coupon scams before, Gonzalez said.

“This type of coupon showed up in the middle of last year and we were able to pull them off a Web site and control it,” she said. “But what makes this coupon so disconcerting for us is that it’s moved from an online source to a viral environment. And because of this new viral nature, we have no idea who is behind it and we’re seeing it all across the country.”

Frito-Lay put an alert on its own website telling customers how to spot a real versus a fake coupon. (see the attached pictures)

  • They don’t require consumers to purchase any products. Real coupons almost always require shoppers to buy a product in order to get a free one.
  • They state the maximum value is around $5.00. But the maximum value of a single bag of Doritos, for example, is never $5.
  • They usually have a one-part UPC code. Real coupons have a two-part UPC codes that can be tracked.
  • They don’t refer to a specific ounce/weight for the product. Real Doritos coupons, for example, always refer to the specific bag size.
  • The mailing address to redeem the coupons is not correct. The mailing address for the phony Doritos coupon is Dallas, Texas. The address on the real Doritos coupons is Del Rio, Texas.


The Coupon Information Corporation helps track fraudulent coupons. So if you ever get an e-mail or a Facebook message about a particular savings, this is a good place to check before you try to cash it in.