Experts warn about the dark side of couponing

Most want to save a few dollars with the holidays and inflation still high.

Coupons are a great way to keep money in your wallet.

However experts are warning about a growing concern about counterfeit coupons, our sister station Boston25 reports.

Last year Americans used physical and digital coupons to save a whopping $4 billion, according to couponfollow.com.

“It’s like a high ...except you’re saving money,” Nicole Lorenzo, an extreme couponer said.

Lorenzo and her husband Mike share money-saving strategies on social media under the name “Lorenzo Family Deals.”

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“I look at coupons as money. 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 said.

She gets her coupons from traditional legitimate sources: Sunday newspapers, flyers, manufacturers, and retailers.

But there is a dark side to couponing.

Recently two Massachusetts women were charged with operating an organized counterfeit coupon ring.

Investigators said they produced high-quality fake coupons and 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.

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He said every year retailers lose an estimated $55 million to fake coupons.

“Coupons, especially digital coupons, are more popular than ever. But you have to be careful to make sure you’re not getting scammed,” he said.

Miller said when it comes to digital coupons it’s best to be skeptical, but it’s not always easy.

While many social media coupon codes are perfectly fine, some are not, and could land you in legal trouble.

He provided some tips for avoiding fake coupons:

  • Never buy coupons
  • Don’t download coupons from social media groups
  • Avoid unrealistically generous coupons, just like the old saying, if it’s too good to be true, it probably is

“Every day, people are struggling to make ends meet, and if you could save any money, whether it’s a dollar or $20, that savings is going to be huge,” Miller said.

Nicole said just make sure your real savings come from real coupons.

“You don’t have to coupon illegally to get good deals. I can’t process how someone would want to go to jail for it. The deals are there,” she said.

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