The internet is chocked full of great deals and awesome free give aways. Users can participate in super promotions in which they can receive things like company logo baseball hats, t-shirts and coffee mugs for free or just the cost of shipping. Many well known brand companies offer free samples of new products and host contests in which consumers can receive a certain prize or a specific product free for a year. All of these freebies and deals are fun, seriously, who does not love free stuff? Unfortunately, along with all of the great bargains are whopping scams. It can really tough to know how to spot a scam with the sea of pop-ups and sidebar advertisements.
Do not give out your personal information just for the hope of snagging a free sample of shampoo or a bag chips! If it is a “free” sample, then they do need your back account information or your credit card number. Also, avoid giving out your social security number, place of employment and any other personal information. Since it is required to put down an address for the website/company to send the sample to, use a post office box. Most post office boxes are free or inexpensive and worth it if you apply for a lot of free stuff.
*Read the fine print.
No matter how reputable the website/company or how good the deal appears to be, always take the time to read the fine print before signing up for anything. Yes, the fine print is long and boring and annoying, but it can keep you from making a huge mistake. Some scammers count on the fact that most people will not bother reading the fine print. The fine print often contains legal information and other important things that protects consumers from being taken advantage of by the website/company and the offer itself. Another reason to read the fine print is because some companies will offer something great for free with a paid membership. You will not see that part unless you read the tiny writing at the bottom of the page! That great free item could end up costing you an arm and a leg.
*Create a new email address.
One smart tip is to create an email address specifically for use with freebie and bargain offers. This way, your regular email is not filled up with spam (junk emails). When you set up the “fake” email, you might want to use a made up name also.
*Free trial offers.
These are the ones to watch out for the most. The offer itself might be a legitimate one, however they are probably going to ask you to provide your bank/credit account information so they charge you automatically for the product or service after the free trial period ends. This in itself is not necessarily a bad thing provided you actually want to continue with the product or service. The downside is they might charge you before the trial period ends, eliminating the supposed option to cancel. Beware of these free trial offers, even from reputable websites!
There are honest to goodness free samples and great bargains available on the internet. The trick is knowing how to weed through the scams to find the good stuff. The fact is, something advertised to be free should actually be free. Read the fine print to see what sort of “strings” are attached to the offer.