It seems like freebie scams are all over the internet these days. We all love getting things for free, but you have to be careful when choosing which offers to sign up for, or a scam could end up costing you way more than you bargained for.
Before you request your next freebie, read these important tips on how to avoid freebie scams and keep your information safe and secure.
Never Pay for a Freebie
A freebie isn't a freebie unless it's free! If a website wants you to pay, no matter how they spin it, don't request it.
There are some freebie scams that ask you to pay a small amount of money for a "processing fee" or "shipping and handling." After they've collected the money, they take it and run leaving you and everyone else without the freebie.
Sometimes, freebie scams will want you to sign up for a "free trial offer" of one or several online services in order to get your freebie. Avoid these at all costs! At best, you'll never be able to get the free trial canceled and at worst they steal your credit card information.
If a Freebie Is Too Good to Be True, It Probably Is
Most freebies are only worth a few dollars, with the occasion one that's a bit more. However, you will never get a car, house, or large value gift card for free—these are all freebie scams.
A popular freebie scam on the internet is for gift cards to popular stores or restaurants up to $500. You may see these in your email, as ads on websites, or your friends sharing them on social media. These are freebie scams, and you shouldn't request them. They'll sell your personal information and you'll never receive the gift card.
Get Your Freebies From Reliable Websites
Some big companies give out a lot of sample freebies. They want you to try their products, hoping you'll then go out and buy them. These companies have the money to give out free samples. When a freebie for one of their products is offered, make sure that it's from their official website. You're never going to get a freebie that a website doesn't really have to give out.
Smaller businesses do occasionally give out freebies. These are mostly low-cost items such as pens or magnets. If you see one that's over $5 in value offered by a company that you've never heard of, it's best to avoid.
While you want to make sure you're requesting freebies from a reliable website, you should also make sure you're finding your freebies on a reliable freebie site. Freebie communities are great because people will post and openly discuss deals, helping everyone avoid freebie scams.
When I see a freebie from a website I don't know, I ask myself, "Why is this company sending out freebies"? It makes sense only if they want to make money off of it in the future, such as hoping you'll buy the full-sized product.
Don't Give Away Personal Information You Aren't Comfortable Sharing
Most freebies require at a minimum that you provide your name and address. This is acceptable information to need because they must know how to mail the item to you. While there may be several other questions asked, it's highly recommended that you only provide the information required to get the freebie. You don't want to trade in your privacy for a freebie. Any other non-required questions are likely going to be used for marketing purposes only—in other words, more spam and junk mail.
Many times when you request a freebie, the company will want your phone number and email address. This does not mean that the freebie is a scam but if you don't feel comfortable providing the information, or you don't have alternatives you can use just for potential spam, then don't do it. The same goes for any questions about your household or buying habits.
If you're worried about getting junk or scam emails when you request a free sample, you've got a reason to worry. Most likely you'll get on a list where you'll get flooded with spam. I suggest getting a free email account that you use only for freebies to keep it all out of your personal email.
You should never give out your credit card information or social security number when requesting a freebie. If you see this information required for a freebie then this freebie is probably a scam.
When In Doubt, Move On
Let's say you got a freebie lead on a forum where other members say that the deal is valid. You don't have to provide credit card information, your social security number or any other personal information you aren't comfortable with. It doesn't sound too good to be true either, but for some reason, you still feel funny about it. There's just something not right about it. My advice is to move on to the next one. No freebie is worth getting taken by a scam.