How To

Warning: Fake Coupons! (And How to Spot Them)

Clipping coupons has become something of a national pastime lately. Largely a result of the past recession and still shaky employment picture, many Americans are still counting their dollars and cents, working under tighter budgets and, naturally, trying to save whenever and wherever possible.

Unfortunately, the recent frugality craze has created a boon for spammers, who doctor countrfeit coupons and distribute them online or via email. This is bad news for manufacturers and retailers, of course, who are losing millions of dollars because of these scams.

As consumers, we don’t stand to lose much if we try to use a fake coupon — other than the unrealized savings, that is, and our dignity. It’s no fun to be told at the register that the coupon you’re trying ot redeem is a sham, especially if you were hoping to use it on a big ticket item.

But knowledge is power, and this week we’ve got a preview for you of the latest video from WalletPop.com that walks you through seven ways to distinguish a real coupon from a fakeroo.

Among the telltale signs:

1. The expiration date is too far out (six months or more) on a free item. The better the deal, the sooner you’d have to redeem it.

2. The deal is too good to be true. A free iPod, no purchase required? We don’t think so.

3. The coupon has someone’s name or email address. A sign that the manufacturer or retailer is trying to limit the number of deals available, and you may be asked for ID in order to redeem the coupon.

For the rest of the red flags, watch the video above. Happy clipping!