Are Internet Printed Coupons the Next Napster?

20 Feb, 2017

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Do you remember Napster? It was a music sharing service that was part of a huge lawsuit for illegal sharing of music files. The unique aspect of the case was that some of Napster’s users ended up being sued for illegally downloading music. In some examples, that meant a 15-year old facing a million dollar lawsuit. I can see buying internet printed coupons becoming the next Napster.

As QSeer users know, just about all internet printed coupons contain a unique tracking code. We do not display the 17 digit tracking code on QSeer, but you need to know that each coupon should have a unique code. Coupons.com, Smartsource.com, PGEveryday.com, etc think the ability to track coupon redemptions is important enough to use valuable space in the coupon barcode for the tracking code. Depending on the company, the tracking information can be tied back to your name, home address, IP address or more.

We have already seen coupons.com go after a “coupon fairy” who was selling internet printed coupons. Apparently some internet coupon sellers are spoofing IP addresses so that each coupon has its own tracking number. But I have heard of other people buying internet printed coupons and receiving sets of ten with the same serial number. The serial number is embeded in the coupon barcode, and each valid coupon has a unique code. If you ever get a set of internet coupons with the same serial number, do not use them.

At some point, I predict that coupons.com will start targeting people who are buying internet printed coupons while retailers will go after people using those fraudulent coupons. With in-store video cameras, credit cards, and loyalty programs, there are ways that unusual coupon usage can be tracked back to you even if you did not print the coupons. Someone will be the target of the first consumer lawsuit – don’t let that be you!

There are great coupons out there but just redeem those you print yourself!

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