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Costly Coupons

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Millions of us are stretching our dollars with coupons found online as well as in newspapers and magazines. A new coupon scam is on the rise and it is costing us all.

We use coupons to save money. But ironically: coupons are now at the heart of a new scam that is costing U.S. companies millions of dollars.

"For every coupon successfully counterfeited it costs the manufacturer one million dollars," says U.S. Postal Inspector Roberta Bottoms.

These counterfeit coupons are usually sold on the internet.

"Customers went online and were the winning bidder on some internet auction," says Bottoms.

Once the site had contact information – consumers would be messaged or emailed asking if they would like to buy a large amount of coupons.

"So the initial online auction was just basically for them to find people that they could sell a large quantity of coupons to at one time," says Bottoms.

Postal inspectors learned the coupons were fakes.

"Initially, these counterfeits will scan and be accepted at your local retail company but it is costing the manufacturer money and in turn costing the consumer money," says Bottoms.

In fact, the coupon information corporation says coupon fraud is costing manufacturers hundreds of millions of dollars every year.

Manufacturers say they are forced to pass along these losses by raising the prices of their goods.

"The manufacturers have put retail establishments on notice that they will no longer reimburse them," says Bottoms.

Bottom line: no consumer should every pay for a coupon.

"People use coupons to save money and in this case you might be actually wasting your money," says Bottoms.

Postal Inspectors say use coupons you find in newspapers, manufacturers' web sites or their authorized coupon distributor. Do not download coupons from internet forums.

Sarah Panko

Sarah is the anchor/ producer for News Three First Edition at 5/4 central time. She also brings you the latest Consumer Reports on the Nightwatch at 11/10 central. More>>

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