Please Don’t Make Copies Of Printable Coupons!

by cindy on November 8, 2010

I have been teaching a lot of coupon classes lately and feel I need to address this issue for all the new couponista’s. Please do not make copies of printable coupons. The coupon states that the coupon is void if it is copied. So many people just do not know that what they are doing is wrong. I am not sure how to say this nicely but making unlimited copies of coupons is fraud. We have to install a coupon printer to make sure we are only printing the number of coupons that is allowed. Most sites will allow you to print the coupon 2 times per computer. If people continue to make copies of printable coupons it will make it harder for everyone to use printable coupons.

I have gotten so many emails lately about stores no longer taking printable coupons. I am pretty sure this is why some stores are no longer taking them.

So far I have never run into this issue. I would be devastated if I was no longer able to use them. Almost all the coupons I use are printable. Please use coupons the correct way so we can all save a lot of money.

I wanted to show a photo of 2 of the same coupons. There is a tracking code on the upper right hand corner. The coupons are for $.50 off Old Orchard Juice. If you look at the tracking code you will see that each of the coupons have a different  pin number on it. The retailer will only get they money back for each different pin number. If you make copies of specific coupon they would all have the same pin number on it. I hope you understand what I am trying to say.

Here is a few tips on how to get more coupon prints:

  • Use more than 1 computer if you have access.
  • Ask your friends or family to print them for you if they are not going to use them.
  • If the same coupon is on different coupon sites, you may be able to print the coupon 2 times per site per computer. :)

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{ 41 comments… read them below or add one }

Bridget November 8, 2010 at 12:35 pm

Just thought I would FYI everyone in our Dayton area, Toys R Us is no longer taking printed coupons (unless specifically noted in their ad). I spoke with the managers at the Dayton Mall location as well as the Fairfield Commons Mall location and they said they never know what printed coupons they can accept until the weekly ad comes out. I attribute this lock down to what you have stated above Cindy! I think it really stinks for all of us out here that use coupons the way they are intended and not abusing the system! Please don’t ruin it for us!

Julie November 8, 2010 at 12:41 pm

Thank you for sharing this. I was at the store last week and somebody thought they were being helpful by leaving all the printable coupons they had made copies of by the Chex Mix for others to use. I took them and throw them away because the tracking codes showed they where duplicated.

Sue November 8, 2010 at 12:54 pm

I had a cahsier at Meijer THINK that I had copied coupons just becasue 2 of the 4 I had were printed in black & white instead of color. I explained that I was just trying to save ink, I printed 2 at home, 2 at work. He did finally take them after much close scrutiny, but I will have to remember to point out the codes being different if they question it again! The thought never crossed my mind ot copy them, but they must be having problems with people doing this for him to think that I did!

Lisa Milyard November 8, 2010 at 1:18 pm

Thank you so much for addressing this! I know that some people honestly don’t know they’re doing wrong, but some do and it’s sad! I do know that some of the newer copier/scanner/ printers (like the one we have) will not copy coupons! They come out with red printed all over them!

Holli November 8, 2010 at 1:21 pm

I used the $8 Toy Story Blue Ray printable Saturday at the Dayton Mall Toys R Us and not a word was said. I don’t get their ad so I don’t know if this was one that was” allowed “or not but the cashier didn’t even look twice at it. Thanks for the heads up though, worth the call before the drive for sure for me. We are not that close.

Christine November 8, 2010 at 1:36 pm

I have also been accused of copying coupons. I always say the same thing, “copying coupons is the same as stealing”. Once I educate the cashier on the difference in the numbers you showed above and they take it. I think a lot of people just don’t know better that they should not be copying. The coupon sites should have some kind of disclaimer that you have to agree to not to copy coupons so you are reminded every time you print. Also, the stores really need to educate their cashiers on how coupons work. I told my Kroger manager he should hire me to give a class :)

I was at my Weight Watchers meeting and a lady had copied a Smart Ones coupon about 100 times so everyone could use it. I was sick to my stomach over it. I tried to explain it but they didn’t get it.

Binh Chan November 8, 2010 at 1:59 pm

I noticed each bar code are unique. I have 4 computers at home to print my coupons and my Sunday Newspaper! ;-) I give away coupons that I don’t use or need to my family members, and they do the same for me. People shouldn’t takes advantage and abuse the system! Unfortunately, not everyone is honest!

CINDY November 8, 2010 at 10:58 pm

I had told a coupon lady at the store about a couple of the coupon sites and told her about I told her (and emphasized) not to make copies of the coupons. She could print only 2 per computer. Recently I saw her at Kroger’s again. She told me she could no longer print coupons on her computer. none of the sites would let her print coupons. I asked if she made copies of the coupons. She said yes. Asked if I knew if she would be able to print them again. I said, I don’t know. I told you not to make copies. Guess if you get a new computer then you’ll be able to. Hope she had fun with all her copied coupons. Now she gets none.

Heidi November 9, 2010 at 10:25 am

Is hitting the back button on the same thing? You know how sometimes it will print a second coupon before saying you’ve reached the max printable limit? I’ve seen that suggestion on other blogs like yours.

cindy November 9, 2010 at 10:38 am

No they have different pin numbers. The sites will stop you from printing once you have met your print limit.

Abbey November 10, 2010 at 4:19 pm

thank you for sharing i get it a lot it is frustrating for those honest people out there, thankfully at Meijer I have got to know most of the cashiers so they don’t question it, now if I could just Kroger to be more trusting. All it takes is one person to ruining it for us all.

Michelle January 5, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Ok, I admit it. Smack me around now. I did copy coupons ONCE when I first started. I figured, who would care? Just after that I found out WHY someone would care (the codes and not getting paid) and I haven’t done it since. Eeks! Most of my coupons are internet and I’d not have much of a hobby without access to them. Now I print off my desktop, my laptop, my netbook, my husbands desktop and my daughters laptop if I can LOL I also send them to my husband at work and he prints them for me sometimes and even still, I check to be sure the codes are different. I don’t want to lose the priviledge!

Tina March 1, 2011 at 10:29 pm

Thanks for the info. I am new to coupons and didn’t know this. I copied some . I won’t do it again. :)

Adhis March 4, 2011 at 11:25 am

I just got a printable coupon that makes no mention of copying or selling or whatever like I have seen on other coupons. Does this mean THIS coupon can be copied or does the “no copying” rule apply to ALL coupons whether they mention copying or not?

I’m still newish to couponing, so I’m asking to learn not to steal. :D

cindy March 4, 2011 at 4:32 pm

Is the coupon legit? I would have to see a pic of it. If you would like to email it to me so I can take a look at it.

Sue March 13, 2011 at 12:36 am

I’m new to cuponing and i’m freaking out after reading this. If I go to a site and print a cupon, and another site leads me back to possibly the same site and i print again, am i doing something wrong? Are you saying I need to keep up with how many, and where i printed from? I just assumed if I’m allowed to print it, i haven’t used more than allowed. I may or may not go to a same site once a day or week. I haven’t kept up. I have just been so focused on trying to save. I figured if it let’s me print i’m good. After all i might print more than one of something, but i might not print any other cupon from the site. Many sites offer the same cupon. I’m so confused. On top of it all, I have health problems that effect my thinking and now i wonder if i should do internet printing at all. I don’t want to do anything wrong or illegal. How often a day, or week , or month are you allowed to print. How do you know if it’s a new cupon of the same thing? I don’t think i have copied more than two from a site, but i may or may not have gone back again on another day. From now on if i look at those bar codes and they each have a different number am i good? I would hate to do something wrong out of ignorance and get in trouble. Thankyou for bringing this to my attention.

cindy March 13, 2011 at 12:46 pm

Sue, What I am talking about is coping the coupon with a copy machine after you print it. Most sites will allow you to print the coupon 2 times. You are fine. :)

joanne_dfw March 24, 2011 at 11:01 am

I have 4 computers in my home. (my main PC, the kids’ two laptops, and a Mac that I use for work) All have the exact same IP address, as they’re connected to one router. lets each computer print two coupons, each with a different code number. With 4 computers, I am able to print 8 coupons. (2 times 4) Each of the 8 coupons have its unique ID.

Is this okay or not? I’m asking because I don’t want the clerks at my favorite stores to get into trouble. Nor do I want to see the store not getting reimbursed by the manufacturer.

Thanks! :)

cindy March 24, 2011 at 11:36 am

Joanne, Yes what you are doing is just fine. :)

Matt April 13, 2011 at 12:22 am

I want to start out by first saying thank you for hosting this post and openng up my eyes to the issues associated with print copying an already printed coupon.

I recently copied a printable online coupon using the printer I printed a coupon from because I didn’t want to wait to load the page again to print it again. At the time I didn’t know that this was considered wrong and that each printable coupon has a unique serial number suposedly and can only be printed ¬†normally only twice per computer. I didn’t think it was a big deal because in the past I printed the same coupon several times, and I never reached a maximum limit. I feel really bad because I used the coupon a few times at my local grocery store and just now recently read that this is not allowed. I will no longer do this again, but can’t help but feel really bad about how stupid I am. I would never think to ever photocopy a coupon I clipped out of the newspaper, and I don’t know why I thought the printed coupons would be any different.

Once I read this and was made aware I trashed all my printed and subsquent copied coupons because I honestly can’t tell the difference between the two. From now on I will only PRINT printable coupons!!! I’m fairly new to
couponing, and I think I just honestly got caught up in the moment and the rush of saving a little extra cash at the grocery store.

Please someone/anyone provide me some advice on if I should do something about this? I only saved a few dollars, but I feel bad about it.


Sasha May 12, 2011 at 1:48 am

Does anyone know of a website or anything that sends coupons to you through mail??

Elisa May 24, 2011 at 11:14 am

THANK YOU FOR POSTING THIS!! I have friends that have been photocopying coupons like crazy and using them all at once to make a profit off their grocery shopping! I tried to explain that it’s stealing but they won’t believe me. I’m talking about really, really, nice people who would NEVER steal or be dishonest. They just didn’t (or wouldn’t!) believe me because they wanted to save money. I posted this blog post on my Facebook page so hopefully they will see that I’m not making it up.

Part of my concern is that they will ruin couponing for everyone else; but my main concern is that what they are doing is wrong. Especially because these are good, moral women that would never steal in the “conventional” way.

Again, thanks for the blog post!

cindy May 24, 2011 at 11:23 am

Elisa, this is becoming a real issue. We have to spread the word. I am teaching a class just about every night and there is someone at the class who is making copies of printable coupons. Some do not know that what they are doing is wrong but some do.

Carla May 24, 2011 at 6:45 pm

I always seem to miss out on the good newspaper coupons because of the region I’m in so not being able to use printables would cost my family a lot of money (or worse, food). To the other people out there, please be considerate. It isn’t just you that you’re potentially hurting.

Tania May 24, 2011 at 9:27 pm

I think it is also important to note to never buy printed coupons from ebay or any other coupon clipping website, as they are most likely fraudulent. Although I like to be a coupon fairy sometimes and leave coupons I will not use by the item at the store, I never leave an internet coupon. I am afraid, unfortunately, that someone might pick it up and copy it and since the numbers that run around the edges can be traced back to me, I don’t want to be responsible, even unknowingly, of fraud! I don’t bother printing any pdf coupons either unless they are directly from a manufacturer’s website, as they may have been erroneously published online. Great post Cindy, I’ve met some people at Meijers & Krogers who really have no clue that this is illegal.

KjW July 12, 2011 at 4:43 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this. I will admit that I was the crazy coupon copier. I had no clue that it was illegal or that the store would not receive credit. I have come across a few coupons (printable) however, that never make mention of Void if copied, sold, exchanged, or transferred. Is it illegal to copy these coupons?

cindy July 12, 2011 at 5:26 pm

I would have to see the coupon to know for sure.

Viperlexi August 6, 2011 at 12:45 am

I am fairly new to couponing and I was a coupon copier when I first started. I even let me coworker copy my coupons since she didn’t have a printer. I do not know if she let other people copy hers. I also have left coupons near items so that other people may use them. I didn’t know about the serial numbers and copying until tonight when I saw an article on another blog. Like some of the above posters, I didn’t realize it was illegal and that the store wouldn’t receive credit for these. You never think sometimes to look at the fine print on the coupon. I agree that the coupon manufacturers should have a disclaimer you have to click before you print coupons.

I haven’t copied coupons recently nor let anyone else copy my coupons. But now I feel HORRIBLE for using copied coupons and hope that the few printed (not copied) coupons that I have left on shelves don’t get copied and used multiple times.

Thanks for the rules. I guess I should have read up on the rules BEFORE I started couponing. I already shared this information with my coworker and I will definitely share with other friends that coupon. And I will DEFINITELY abide by the rules from now on. And along with Matt’s advice above, what should you do if you have used copied coupons before other than just stopping and helping to educate others?

Matt August 23, 2011 at 5:10 pm

I am new about printable coupons, and I was wondering if my coupons are safe to use because when I print a coupon from the company’s main website the circles or bubbles in the expiration date box never appear.

jo September 2, 2011 at 1:59 am

Oh my gosh! I am soo glad I found this blog. I have only been couponing for a few months and I didn’t know you could not copy them!! I have no Idea WHAT I was was thinking. I was so excited about this whole new couponing experience I guess I was a little crazy,I didn’t realize this was illegal. I feel really bad as I have done it several times and also like others, shared them with friends. I will NOT be doing this again. Thank you sooo much for putting this out there I can’t believe I was doing something so illegal, dumb and wrong!!

nannan October 26, 2011 at 12:36 pm

OMG, I really did not know that I can not copy the print coupon untile I read this blog. I just start couponing 2 month ago. I have 5 computer at home, I could print 10 coupons from my 5 different computer, but I did not do it. I printed one coupon from one computer and copy it 10 times to use it which is really wrong not legal. I feel so shame. I have trashed all my copied coupon away as soon as I read this blog. Thank you for share this information. I will donate all the goods to charity to cover my mistake. I will not do this again.

korey October 27, 2011 at 3:58 pm

add me to the list of a copier….I just recently found out that it is illegal and I feel terrible. I used the copied q’s once and it was a few extra’s….ugh. Last night I went thru my book and tossed out a few others I had made copies of. I wish I had known better…so silly of me. Thankfully, I only did this one time and will never ever do it again. Great blog and thankful to have found it!

Shannon April 29, 2012 at 6:12 am

Wow. I actually attended a coupon CLASS where I was informed that you CAN copy an original copy of a coupon. I have actually done this once with a coupon I had that was a really good deal on something. I feel horrible now and definitely will NOT be doing it anymore. I’m glad I know better now and will be talking to the ladies who run the class to inform them of the mis-information they are handing out when they teach their classes. You would think they would know better since they’re supposedly the “experts.”

Beth May 10, 2012 at 1:04 am

Ok, here is my question. When you go to print a coupon, most recently at and a couple of weeks ago at earthbound organics (they have since changed it) I told it to print my coupons and my computer printer popped up and asked me how many I would like. I have never physically copied a coupon, but I have printed more than one when asked. Is that the same thing??? I have 4 stoneyfield coupons here and I am going shopping tomorrow, but I don’t want to be dishonest.

A.O. May 22, 2012 at 11:18 pm

I as well am SOOOO glad I am seeing this. I had absolutely no clue this was not acceptable. Like others have stated, I was just so excited as I just started to explore couponing as a way to save my family some much needed money. I only did this once. I feel terrible and I am having anxiety thinking about others potentially getting in trouble due to my ignorance on the subject. What can I do about this? Should I call store and speak to manager? o run back over there to repay the money I “saved.”

Rosalie May 31, 2012 at 7:20 pm

Ok, here’s my question. I understand that the two coupons you are allowed to print out at a time have unique bar codes that correspond with the unique numbers under the bar codes. But what about when people are able to obtain multiple copies of the coupons found in the smart source/redplum coupon booklets? Those coupons all have the same bar codes and numbers on them. How is it ok to use a ton of those in one transaction?

Rosalie May 31, 2012 at 7:39 pm

And here’s another question. Keeping in mind that you can legally use quite a few of those newspaper coupons that all have the exact same barcode in the same transaction, doesn’t it bother anyone that a measley 2 printed coupons are all that each person is legally allowed at a time? I’d say that they’re making it awfully hard for us frugal, coupon-lovers out there to take advantage of sales and stock up on basic grocery items. It would probably go a long way toward reducing fraud (both intentional and unintentional) if they would raise the limit on the printable coupons. They flood the market with paper coupons already, most of which are never redeemed and wind up choking our landfills instead of getting into the hands of people who want and need to use them. Then they make us feel like criminals for using more than our allotted two printable coupons, which we’re creating using our own paper and ink that we are paying for. Food for thought.

Kristie September 11, 2013 at 2:43 pm

Thank you for posting this. I am a member of a coupon group that is comprised of roughly 125-150 women. I have only been couponing for 6 weeks now, as we get all of our deals together like most and go to Publix or Winn Dixie once a week. So I have been 6 times now. Anyways, for the first 4 weeks I had no idea that copying printable coupons was illegal. I had saw on our group page and other coupon group pages where people where getting 25, 30 or more of items that only had printable coupons for them. So I thought it was okay. I was never told any different, which I never asked. Two weeks ago, I saw a post on a Facebook page for a coupon lady that had a long thing about how illegal it is and how some people have gone to jail for doing it. After that, I contacted the Publix I shop at and I apologized and told the manager I would pay the value of the coupons back to their store if they could just get me a total. She said she has never had someone be honest about it and she really appreciated it. She said she would educate the new cashiers on the codes and that it is not as trackable to a point where they could pin point exactly what i used in order for me to pay it back. She said there was no need in that. So I tried to print a few coupons this week and now I cannot print from any of the printers that allow you to print coupons. It is temporarily disabled. So, the lesson learned here, is to be honest and do not copy coupons no matter how new to couponing you are. We all make mistakes but just like others have said it is the same as stealing. The more I think about that fact, the more I cringe because I am an honest person and my husband and I work hard for all we have. Never have I ever stolen anything from anyone. Really upsets me that I was so stupid.

ddyd September 16, 2013 at 8:56 pm

I Feel Horrible!!!!!!Here I Thought I Was Saving Money And Being Wise Printing My Coupons. I Honestly Didn’tKnow It Was Illegal. Since I Read That You Can USSR 4 Like CoUpons Per Transaction I Decided To Save On Paper And Just Made COpies Several On One Sheet. I Made 6 Copies And Used Them I Feel Horrible. I Had Made MoreCopies ButAfter Knowing This Is Illegal I Shredded The Rest.

SRS November 12, 2013 at 10:47 pm

OMG I feel sick. I really never coupon but I recently did. Knowing I could print 2 coupons from each printer, not knowing they had specific codes, and not wanting to log on to every computer we have I made copies thinking it was the same as printing 2 from each computer. Now I feel totally sick that I did this and am really really worried and stressed about it. Idk what to do, I would never steal or intentionally defraud a company. I’m hoping that the worst that happens is suspension of printing privileges. Last time I used coupons before this was 4 years ago. I think I’ll stick to inserts and fliers from now on. for those on here that also fessed up – what did you do ?

New Couponer November 13, 2013 at 1:21 pm

I feel absolutely horrible. I am a honest person and never really though about coping coupons being bad but now that I think about it I definitely understand why. On a product cap you were able to enter the code and receive a coupon for additional items. I had many of these caps and entered the codes but was unable to print more than two coupons. Thinking something was wrong with the printer I just copied the coupon as I figured I have the codes entered so what would it matter and this would solve the problem. I used the coupons and then later found out that it was illegal. I cant not believe that I did that! I am very concerned what may happen to me for doing this. I printed the coupon at work as my printer was in storage as we were moving when this happened. I am afraid my work will get into trouble or what will happen. I have only used the copied coupons once and threw away the others I had made since now that I know. I have been able to print coupons since but will no longer use that computer out of fear. Can anyone tell me what they think will happen or what actions will be taken on me. I really am freaking out so bad that I cried and am afraid what might happen to me/my job. Thank you all in advance for any information and thank you for helping a new couponer like me. I also have questions on if it is right to use coupons that are similar to the product that go. The cashier told me if it scans than use it but now I am afraid to coupon at all!

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