Strictly Prohibited Activities

The following activities are prohibited. The penalties, criminal or civil, can be severe.

  1. Photocopies. Do not photocopy coupons. This is counterfeiting and is a criminal offense.
  2. Coupon Decoding. Each coupon is a contract and should be used only for the item described in writing on the coupon itself. Using a coupon for any product other than the one intended is a type of fraud similar to shoplifting.
  3. Buying coupons. When a person buys coupons, they may be inadvertently purchasing stolen property or counterfeit coupons. Even if there is not a direct criminal penalty involved, both coupon buyers and sellers open the door to potential litigation when they buy or sell coupons because they are in violation of the “nontransferability” clause printed on all coupons distributed within the United States. The transfer makes a coupon void. Coupon sellers often include legal disclaimers stating that they are selling their time, a service, or even envelopes that just happen to contain coupons instead of the coupons themselves. Such statements are invalid and do not offer any legal protection. Rather, such statements suggest that the sellers know that their coupon sales are inappropriate and wrong.
  4. Stealing newspapers. This is theft, whether it is for personal use, resale, to supply an organized criminal enterprise, or any other reason, and can result in felony charges. In addition to the criminal penalties, the theft of newspapers often causes harm to hard working, small entrepreneurs who operate on very thin profit margins—usually a few pennies per newspaper. The theft of even a small number of papers may have a strong impact on their financial picture as consumers, no longer confident that they will receive the contents of their newspapers, will cancel their subscriptions or avoid certain newspaper boxes.
  5. Buying “extra” coupons from your newspaper carrier or some other newspaper employee is probably a violation of the carrier’s employment agreement and/or contractual agreements with his/her supplier and can result in termination.
  6. Reselling Stockpiles. Coupons are intended to give individual consumers a good deal, not provide a method for people to set up unauthorized grocery stores or flea markets in their garages, basements or backyards. Such sales usually violate the terms and conditions of the coupons themselves and may be in violation of local health codes. As a consumer, do you really want to buy a product that has been stored in a stranger’s basement for weeks, months or even years?