Internet Freebies are not always Free

It is very easy to get lured in with the idea of getting something for nothing. Most people are intrigued enough to at least check out the offer. The problem is that Internet offers promoting something “free” often have hidden strings attached. Fortunately, there are some warning signs you can watch out for that can help you avoid some of the most common problems with Internet freebies.

Read the fine print

Some of the most insidious Internet freebies have catches attached to them that you might not have considered. In some cases, you will be offered free merchandise in return for taking part in other “offers” which often means a subscription, applying for (and getting approved) for a credit card or providing a significant amount of personal information. Before you fill out any forms offering you something free, make sure you read all the fine print. Whenever possible, avoid sharing personal information such as health data or email address or you may quickly discover you will get pounds of junk mail in both electronic and hard-copy form.

Something for free if you purchase

Some freebie sites offer you a free subscription for a limited period of time with the understanding you are going to subscribe for a longer period of time. During 2012, one of the most common schemes of this type was sites offering “free” credit reports or credit scores if you ordered a year-long (or more) subscription to credit monitoring services. Keep in mind, all consumers are entitled to a free credit report annually through the Federal Trade Commission offer.

Fast moving freebies

One of the most recent types of “freebie” offers have been showing up on Facebook and on Pinterest. These offers are shared by one person, passed onto the next person and before you can blink, thousands of people are sharing the offer. The problem is these offers are almost always bogus and may contain malware. Before you agree to check out any freebie, make sure you have a good virus protection software on your computer. Use caution and make sure you do your research, especially if the free offer is from a well-known company.

Researching free offers is crucial to make sure you do not wind up the victim of identity theft, credit card theft or wind up buried in spam emails. There are several legitimate free offers that can be easily verified. In addition, if you are determined to find something free, sites like WalMart often have pages of free offers for consumers. The old saying “there is no such thing as a free lunch” should be kept in mind when you are searching for Internet freebies. You may find yourself on unwelcome email or snail mail lists.