How To Tell If Your Printed Coupon Is A Copy


With the recent reports of so many coupons being copied, I thought it would be a good idea to post a refresher on how to tell if a coupon is a copy for those getting them from friends, trades or coupon swaps.

Most coupons use the same security features.  For identical coupons:

  • PIN# is unique to each print, if you can print two per computer they will both be different
  • Offer ID is the same each time
  • Barcode UPC is the same each time
  • Around the outside of the coupon in small print is the PIN, Offer ID, coupon amount, date and time it was printed.

Always check the time to make sure they are different in cases where the PIN is different as some coupon printers show your Member ID instead of PIN but the time should always be different.

You can click on the coupon image above to view a larger copy

28 responses to “How To Tell If Your Printed Coupon Is A Copy”

  1. SeriousSally says:

    At Walmart I was recently accused of photocopying my coupons *gasp!* I was confronted by a cashier, supervisor and a manager….holy cow! Anyway it was only 2 coupons I wanted to use (2 bars of cheese, a coupon for each) and the pin number was my saving grace. I told them it must be quite the photocopier that can magically change the pin number on each one. They walked away defeated lol…

  2. pj says:

    I used a downloaded coupon for Silver Hills Bagels (buy one get one) at Thrifty’s. The coupon had my name and date on it. I was told that Thrifty’s only gives 25% of the value if the coupon is from the internet. So they offered my 25% off ONE package – IF I BOUGHT TWO! Seems to me this does not come to 25%? I also asked if they would give me 25% off 1 package. The answer was no. Needless to say I did not buy the bagels or use the coupon. Later, I wondered what would happen if I had used the coupon. Would Thrifty’s have asked for reimbursement from the supplier at 100%? (Silver Hills is investigating>)

    • FallenPixels says:

      Seems a little strange.
      I know Thrifty’s policy states printed can’t be worth more than 25% of the item value but they should be refusing them rather than getting full reimbursement from the manufacturer IMO

  3. Scarecrow says:

    Win for SeriousSally. Some cashiers I think never heard of printing from the internet, they see something that looks like a copy is a copy.

  4. Scarlet says:

    And the new Kotex coupons have your email address as validation as a real coupon and its one coupon per email address. I contacted Kotex by email and they said one per email address and if there are more from that email address it will be banned . In her email she said its considered fraud if you use more than one coupon per address. Then I emailed her back asking her to explain but nothing yet.

  5. Trish says:

    Another thing to point out to a cashier if there is a dispute is the water mark left on most printable coupons. A copy will typically make the watermark come out darker and that would mean it’s likely a photocopy.

  6. S says:

    I had the same problem with Walmart. They told me that my coupon for Greenworks was a photocopy (it was from the Clorox site where the coupons print in black and white). I have now stopped shopping at Walmart because of the hassle with coupons in general. It’s not worth it to me.

  7. traveller says:

    If companies wanted to stop all the photocopying, they would have more tear pad coupons in the stores. The companies don’t care if the store and customer fight.
    Blame the company for online coupons being photocopied.

    • FallenPixels says:

      Many companies prefer online as they can limit the amount per person, they put coupons out meaning for many people to try ONE-TWO not someone to take many from a tearpad (potentially using them to sell etc)

    • Louise says:

      The manufacturer is NOT to blame…it’s those that intend to scam that are to blame.

  8. Rhonda says:

    I dont’ know why it’s such a big deal with stores refusing coupons. I get the photocopy issue, which is just WRONG & against all honest couponers code of conduct, but these stores get reimbursed for the most part in full for the coupons we use! Plus we shop more in their stores! Sheesh…sometimes it’s more of a hassle….glad I live on a border town so I can get good deals without the hassle. I would like to shop more in Canada, but it sounds like it’s getting harder to save between dishonest people, crabby cashiers & manufacturers putting out less & less coupons. 🙁

    • dw says:

      what happens if someone accidently uses a copied coupon?

      • FallenPixels says:

        The store wont get reimbursed which means they take a loss and prices increase

        • dw says:

          thanks for the info!
          what if they keep using it (say a month or so)? what happens to that person?
          sory for the questions. new to couponing and still learning.

          • FallenPixels says:

            I would think the store would catch on, but there are fraud penalties if caught, if the store decides to go that route after noticing. I know Walmart have in the past with someone who made a fake coupon

          • dw says:

            someone also told me the coupons have pin numbers on them so they can detect if its a copy then they can find the ip address from where the orginal was printed from.

          • FallenPixels says:

            Yes, that is why every PIN is unique

  9. Robin Monks says:

    In my area (Saint John, NB) Walmart is the best place to use coupons. I have never had a coupon rejected, and only one coupon questioned (but still accepted). No Frills and Super Store in my area have also never refused a coupon. Sobeys, on the other hand… YMMV

  10. HolyCow says:

    Discussing about the rampant fake coupons in this post and the above poster (“Coupon Master”) shares how they can be created illegally? Go figure..

    Seeing this, I don’t blame the retailers for cracking down on the internet coupons.

  11. Leslie says:

    I have a problem printing these coupons…the expiry date never seems to print properly. What shows is the day & month, with the year showing below, which does not show at all. So I never get to use these coupons, because merchants won’t take the coupon without the year showing. HELP!!??

    • FallenPixels says:

      Sorry Leslie, I have never had an issue with the text (usually they just don’t print or are missing images for me)
      I suggest taking a pic/scan of it and emailing smartsource for help

  12. Abbie says:

    Any chance of making a printer friendly version of this? I’d love to carry it with me in case I ever get challenged.

  13. minimusiclover says:

    @Leslie I used to have that problem too. This fixed it: Go to “Control Panel\Appearance and Personalization\Display” (you can also copy and paste this) and set it to “Smaller – 100% (default)”

  14. Samm says:

    Now how would I know if someone sent me a copied coupon in a trade? I’m on a few trains and some pro tables I asked for because I don’t have a printer. Now I’m worried.

    • FallenPixels says:

      Samm, you don’t which is why many people will not trade printables

    • Louise says:

      Watch the watermark…’ll either be very dark, or as is the case with multiple copies, not there at all.

      Remember, everyone, NO store HAS to accept a coupon.


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