Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Freebies 101: some rules of the road to consider when sending for free stuff

I belong to dozens of groups, blogs and newsletters that send links out to get free stuff. I love getting freebies and I'm happy to share them with you.
Please keep in mind that sometimes offers are rescinded due to overwhelming response. I cannot guarantee they will still be available every time.
I try to find true freebies, which means they don't require you to fill out long, long surveys and then sign up for a credit card or something similar. They usually don't require you to pay shipping and handling, though occasionally I do find an offer that is REALLY, REALLY good that may require shipping and handling cost, and I will pass it on to you. Please read all details for any offer before supplying information.
 I do have some advice for you
  1. Create a separate email account (or two) to use when you sign up for free stuff. This way your main email account will not be inundated with SPAM. Use Yahoomail or Gmail - they are free services.
  2. NEVER EVER give out your social security number for any reason!
  3. Download a free form filler so that you don't have to fill out each and every offer. The one I use is RoboForm, and I load my information and then just click on one button and it loads my information in for each offer. When you get to the Roboform website, make sure to click on the free trial link. It's not the "pro-version" but it the free version works just fine for what I need it for.
  4. When giving personal information, you'll need to may fudge it a little bit. DO NOT use your real phone number or your cell phone number. You do not want your cell phone tied up with telemarketers or SPAM. This costs you money! You can set up a FREE voice mail account with a local area code to use for freebie and sweepstakes offers using Google Voice.
  5. NEVER use your real birthday - make your date of birth off by either one month, one or two days or one year (best to do all three, or at least one month and one year). This helps you avoid identify theft. If they don't have all the information correct, they can't use it.
  6. If you have a PO box, and the offer will ship to a PO box, use that as your address.
  7. Follow the rules. If the offer is one free sample per mailing address, please respect that. If you abuse the offer, it makes it unfair for others, and hurts the company.
  8. Regarding printable coupons - there are very few merchants in the Buffalo area who accept coupons printed from home computers. Check with your local retailers before attempting to use them. I believe Walmart, Target, Walgreens, CVS, Dollar General and Rite-Aid will accept them, but the policy varies from store to store. Most stores view printable coupons as "fraudulent". Some stores, such as Save-A-Lot may not accept coupons for any FREE item.
  9. If an offer sounds too good to be true, it probably is. When in doubt, don't bother. Better safe than sorry, especially if your credit or debit card or bank account is involved.
I've been sending for free offers for many, many years, and have rarely had any problems. The only problem I have ever encountered is NOT receiving something for which I sent. Many companies will offer a "Freebie" so that they can harvest names and addresses. Hence, the reason I never give my real phone number and have a separate email addresses, unless I really want to hear from the company.
Good luck and happy freebie hunting!