Coupon "businesses" clip consumers

by Lesley Spencer

Think you can make money clipping coupons or selling coupon books? Better think again. Click here to find out why.

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is starting to crack down on yet another scam that targets people who want to make money working from home: business opportunities claiming you can make money by clipping coupons or by selling coupon books.

In a recent Internet "surf" day, the FTC looked for coupon business "opportunities" and found 51 advertisements it says are potentially fraudulent. These ads either claimed consumers could make money by clipping coupons or encouraged them to buy coupon books and then resell the books of coupons for a profit. According to the FTC, income claims for selling these books were exaggerated and the coupons often had restrictions on when and where they could be used.

Although promoters of these schemes promise hundreds of dollars or more per week in earnings from coupon-related business opportunities, the FTC says there is only one legitimate way to use a coupon -- clip it out and use it to save money on the purchase of the designated product.



According to the FTC brochure, "Costly Coupon Scams," selling or transferring coupons to a third party violates most manufacturers' coupon redemption policies, and usually voids the coupon. Moreover, the brochure warns, consumers who buy coupon certificate booklets have to complete and mail a form, select 30 to 50 products from a list, and include a self-addressed, stamped envelope and processing fee in order to redeem the certificates. They end up paying substantial processing fees for coupons that they could clip for themselves out of newspapers and magazines.

Promoters of these coupon booklet business opportunities also claim that the coupons have no expiration date, but the FTC says that's true for only a tiny share of manufacturer-issued coupons. Information about the legitimate use of coupons is available from the Coupon Information Center. A web site dedicated to fighting coupon fraud is located at: http://www.cents-off.com

 
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