Coupon fraud is a serious business problem. The Institute of Sales Promotion puts fraud at more than £300,000 a year. However, with money-off vouchers and coupons so effective at driving trade, many companies want to use them in marketing. Given this, it’s essential to protect them from fraud such as copying for multiple use.

Companies often send physical copies of vouchers to their top customers either as part of a sales promotion or their reward statement. These could be part of a customer relationship programme to drive sales and new products or as a points reward for customer loyalty. Certainly, sending the right offers will deliver incremental sales. JICMAIL shows us that a third of recipients of mail containing vouchers and coupons use them – see Chart 1.

Chart 1 – Commercial Actions for Addressed Mail containing vouchers / coupons

So as they are effective at driving response, we wanted to help our customers use security features that prevent vouchers and coupons being easily copied. To give you peace of mind we’ve put together our top 5 security options to secure your coupons and vouchers and protect your business against fraudulent use.
All of these techniques can be applied at the same time as printing and personalising your mailing, saving time and keeping the cost down.

1 – Use UV invisible ink

As the name suggests, this is printed in the same way as standard ink but cannot be seen without a UV light reader. UV invisible inks can be applied in the printing process so a fixed image throughout the run or in the personalisation process so a variable image making each voucher unique. This gives you complete flexibility about the image you are printing, including making it a personalised code. Checking these is easy as many organisations already have UV light readers for checking banknotes at the tills and checkouts.

2 – Use Pattern Perforations, Micro Perforations and Micro Text

This method lets you create a unique perforated pattern and micro-perforated pattern on your coupons with a specialist cylinder. In addition, micro text on your base print is a great way to keep a coupon secure. It’s easy to be creative with the shape – it could be your brand or campaign logo – and adds texture to your voucher. It’s very easy to check by the store team and difficult to replicate.

3 – Use embossing

Embossing is achieved by pressing paper between a male and female die to leave the impression of your design. Again this could be a brand logo or image. This is an attractive way of making your coupons secure and adds a quality feel.

4 – Use thermochromic inks

Temperature sensitive inks allow you to print an image which is only revealed when exposed to heat or cold. Often used for general marketing purposes, it can hide a secure image or code. Usually the warmth of someone’s hand is enough to show the design and prove the coupon or voucher is genuine. This technology can identify whether the coupon has been photocopied as the heat from the copier will activate the ink and show the hidden message.

5 – Use ink with its own DNA

More expensive, but with the highest security, you could use ink with its own biomarker. This ink essentially has its own DNA and would be unique to your application and impossible to replicate. It can be used to print an image or be invisible and is one of the highest level security features. These inks are used for ballots, ticketing, pharmaceuticals and also for gaming applications. A UVa light is used to identify the validity of the voucher.

Protecting the coupons is one thing. You also need a supplier that produces and stores money-off coupons in a safe and secure environment.

Make sure you ask for:

  • Caged area in warehouse for coupon storage – ensure no unauthorised access
  • CCTV focussed on access areas – to monitor access
  • CCTV on Caged area – to monitor access
  • On site security shredding – no secure print waste leaves the site un shredded
  • ISO 27001 – compliant and regularly audited
  • ISO 9001 – rigorous processes documented and audited
  • Data Health Check – ensures the names and addresses are valid
  • Hosted reception area – no access without ID
  • Fob access to all areas – unescorted access impossible
  • Dedicated QC team – ensure QC’s meet our exacting standards
  • Gated site access – security of finished products and waste

In addition to the above points, we strongly recommend you visit and audit your supplier to ensure they have these security procedures in place.

Lettershop has the site security and data integrity to ensure that your coupons and coupon data is safe and secure until despatch.

For your sample pack of security options for coupons and vouchers please contact Alistair.ezzy@tlg.co.uk.

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