The Better Business Bureau (www.midsouth.bbb.org) and the Coupon Information Corporation (http://www.cents-off.com/) have issued a consumer alert about scammers printing legitimate coupons off the Internet, changing their expiration dates, then distributing or selling the altered ones auction sites.
* ONLY "FREE" OFFERS. The Better Business Bureau says the fake coupons usually cover only products offered for free.
* BUNDLES. The auction sites give them away or sell them in bundles, mixing legitimate coupons with fakes in order to hide them.
* NO PRINTING. Here's the real give-away: you can't print them off the site. If the site insists on e-mailing you the coupons or setting up a web link to get them, they are probably fake.
* "UNLIMITED" or "HOME-PRINTED." The CIC says look for these buzzwords in the site's sales pitch. HUGE red flags!
The Coupon Information Corporation recommends retailers start using counterfeit-proof watermarks on their free coupons. Straight on, you see the expiration date. But tilted, the watermark appears right on top of the expiration date. Here's an example: