Deb Morris: Fru-Gal

The Fru-Gal helps Kentucky shoppers avoid bogus coupons

Deborah Morris
Deborah Morris

How can you tell whether a coupon is fraudulent?

I received that question from Maureen Peters. She had a bad shopping experience where the cashier suggested that her Internet coupon was fake. I was very proud of Maureen because she was cordial to the cashier and asked to see the manager who accepted the coupon. She had been couponing for a while, so she knew she had a valid coupon, but how do you know?

With TLC's Extreme Couponing increasing coupon usage, I've decided to address this topic.

Here are some tips for spotting fraudulent coupons:

1. Stay away from "free items" printable coupons. It is rare that a company will put out a pdf or jpg coupon for a free product. Many products or offers that seem too good to be true are likely to be counterfeit.

What happens is that the coupon has been manipulated by changing the expiration date or size of product. I am not saying that you will not receive free coupons from a company, but it will probably be on its Web page or from its Facebook page. Many of these coupons will say supplies limited or to the first 10,000 people who "like" us.

2. Be very careful about pdf and jpg coupons you use. Coupons cannot be copied. That is fraud. Each printed coupon carries a unique ID that is encrypted in a barcode, enabling each coupon to be traced from print to redemption.

3. Never pay money for coupons. That includes buying coupons from companies/individual who "sell the service of clipping coupons." You cannot be guaranteed that a coupon is legal.

4. Check with the Coupon Information Corporation — a not-for-profit association of consumer product manufacturers dedicated to fighting coupon misredemption and fraud — for a list of fraudulent coupons. Couponinformationcenter.com

Tips on proper use of coupons:

1. Use a coupon for the item or size that is written on the coupon. Remember that many manufacturers will put a picture of their product on the coupon but that is not necessarily the product you have to purchase. For example: Starbucks has a coupon that pictures the new Fusion brand but the coupon says $1.50 off any Starbucks brand coffee. This means you can use the coupon for any size Starbucks coffee product.

2. Don't try to use an expired coupon.

3. Most valid internet coupon sites like coupons.com will make you install the Coupon Printer, an industry-standard browser plug-in. A coupon never appears on the consumer's screen. Instead, it is sent directly to your printer, to prevent duplication of the coupon. The Coupon Printer also provides each coupon with a barcode that can scanned at the point of sale.

Like to read?

All Fayette libraries have just launched their summer reading program for adults and kids. Read anything thing you like — newspapers, books or even listen to audio books — and keep track of your reading time. After you have read 15 hours, take the reading log to the library before July 31 for a free prize. Visit your local library for program specifics.

If you have a Kindle, Jan Watson's novel Still House Pond has been selected by Amazon for its summer reading program. You can download the book for 99 cents until June 15.

Father's Day is coming

There's a Father's Day workshop at Home Depot from 9 a.m. to noon on June 18. Kids can make a toolbox for Dad.

Restaurant deals

Play Skee Ball online at Chuck E. Cheese's Web site to win free tickets.

The following deals are available for kids:

Fazolis — Tuesday nights from 5-8 p.m. with each adult entrée purchased, you get two kids 99 cents meals free. Denny's — Tuesday and Saturdays from 4-10 p.m. kids 10 and younger eat free with an adult entrée purchase of $2.50 or more. Perkins — Friday from 4-9 p.m. kids eat free. On Sunday from 4-7 p.m. kids eat for 99 cents. Chick-Fil-A — Monday from 5-7 p.m. at the Hamburg restaurant, kids get a free four pack of nuggets with an adult combo purchase. On Thursday from 5-7 p.m. at the Turfland Mall location, kids eat free with adult combo purchase. Zaxby's — One free kid's meal per adult meal purchase on Saturday and Sunday. Mancino's Pizza, 1590 Leestown Road — Tuesdays starting at 4 p.m. kids can get one free kids meal (pizza or spaghetti) for each adult entrée purchased. Abuelo's, 3395 Nicholasville Road — All day on Mondays kids meals are only a penny for each pound the child weighs. Smashing Tomato, 3801 Mall Road — Mondays from 6-8 p.m., kids meals are $1.99. Limit two kids meals per adult purchase. Moe's Southwest Grill, 141 Rojay Drive — On Tuesdays, kids eat free all day with an adult combo purchase. Dine-in only.Lexington Legends at Whitaker Bank Ball Park — At Monday home games, kids age 12 and younger receive a free hot dog, chips and a soda.

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