Who doesn’t like a free sample these days? And thanks to the internet, getting free samples has never been easier. You don’t have to fill out any forms or pay postage to mail them; instead you just fill out your information directly online, submit it to the giveaway company and your free samples arrive in the mail. But how safe is this process? The saying goes, “nothing in life is free”, so what is at the expense of signing up for free samples?
For starters, you’re giving away a slice of your online privacy in exchange for the samples. Giveaway companies collect such information as names, emails and addresses any time you fill out a form for a free sample. Most of the time, people don’t think much of this process, as the sample has to get to them somehow, so it doesn’t seem out of place to request this information.
What happens however, is that this information can be sold to third parties. And in the meantime, sites like Google will be watching you as you visit these free giveaway sites, which means you’ll be linked with more ads on your screen prompting you to take advantage of other offers.
While free samples can be worth it, it’s always important to evaluate the program you’re entering into and if the offering of your personal information is worth it. If you’re in dire need of baby samples for example, you may feel fine getting free diaper samples, wipes and baby products in exchange for your name and address. Just remember that as enticing as these free offers sound, they are often in the form of one diaper or a packet of baby lotion.
Another thing to keep in mind is that giveaway sites may also have third parties advertising on their site, and these companies will have separate privacy policies. In this case, one simple click can have you signing up with a completely different company without you even knowing it.
Also look to see if the site is in compliance with the appropriate safety measures such as COPPA and the regulations of your state. While nothing is ever foolproof, you can certainly enjoy your free samples if you know you are not continually putting your privacy on the line.
If you’re one of the millions of people who will be shopping online this holiday season, it’s important to take the necessary safety measures to protect your online identity and financial information. With more people shopping online, this time of the year is most attractive to frauders. Fortunately, there are a few helpful tips that you should keep in mind while shopping this holiday season – and beyond. After all, you don’t want to compromise your own privacy when trying to get the best deal.
Second, only enter financial information on secure sites. Most will very visibly say that you are checking out with a secure site, so look for this box somewhere on your checkout page. The URL address should also show “https”. It’s also a great idea to compare prices, as scammers often entice online shoppers with very low prices. Make sure you are buying a fair price for the product, as well as a fair price for shipping and handling, which is often hidden until the very end of your transaction. Some sellers will offer a low cost on a product, but make up for it with unfair shipping charges.
Next, never wire money to anyone or pay in cash. You always want a paper trail, so pay with a credit card and make sure you save confirmation emails and confirmation numbers. When checking out, also make sure that your total is what is actually being charged to your credit card. With a paper trail, it’s always easier to handle returns or damages.
Finally, be a smart shopper and look in depth at the seller’s profile and the product you are purchasing. Some sellers have very confusing websites and will have you inadvertently signing up for free offers or emails that you may not want. Not only can this violate your inbox, but also you may end up choosing a subscription or giving out more information than what is necessary. If you run into a seller that is offering “free” offers before you can check out, look for a box that allows you to go directly to checkout or cease the transaction and shop somewhere else.